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THE WINGS OF THE DOVE. 2 vols. 2.50 


THE GOLDEN BOWL. 2 vols. . . . 2.50 








Published, November, 1904 








IT was not till many days had passed that the Prin 
cess began to accept the idea of having done, a little, 
something she was not always doing, or indeed that of 
having listened to any inward voice that spoke in a 
new tone. Yet these instinctive postponements of re 
flection were the fruit, positively, of recognitions and 
perceptions already active ; of the sense, above all, that 
she had made, at a particular hour, made by the mere 
touch of her hand, a difference in the situation so long 
present to her as practically unattackable. This situa 
tion had been occupying, for months and months, the 
very centre of the garden of her life, but it had reared 
itself there like some strange, tall tower of ivory, or 
perhaps rather some wonderful, beautiful, but outland 
ish pagoda, a structure plated with hard, bright porce 
lain, coloured and figured and adorned, at the over 
hanging eaves, with silver bells that tinkled, ever so 
charmingly, when stirred by chance airs. She had 



walked round and round it that was what she felt; 
she had carried on her existence in the space left her 
for circulation, a space that sometimes seemed ample 
and sometimes narrow : looking up, all the while, at 
the fair structure that spread itself so amply and rose 
so high, but never quite making out, as yet, where she 
might have entered had she wished. She had not 
wished till now such was the odd case; and what was 
doubtless equally odd, besides, was that, though her 
raised eyes seemed to distinguish places that must 
serve, from within, and especially far aloft, as apertures 
and outlooks, no door appeared to give access from 
her convenient garden level. The great decorated sur 
face had remained consistently impenetrable and in 
scrutable. At present, however, to her considering 
mind, it was as if she had ceased merely to circle and 
to scan the elevation, ceased so vaguely, so quite help 
lessly to stare and wonder : she had caught herself dis 
tinctly in the act of pausing, then in that of lingering, 
and finally in that of stepping unprecedentedly near. 
The thing might have been, by the distance at which 
it kept her, a Mahometan mosque, with which no base 
heretic could take a liberty ; there so hung about it the 
vision of one's putting off one's shoes to enter, and 
even, verily, of one's paying with one's life if found 
there as an interloper. She had not, certainly, arrived 
at the conception of paying with her life for anything 
she might do; but it was nevertheless quite as if she 
had sounded with a tap or two one of the rare porce 
lain plates. She had knocked, in short though she 
could scarce have said whether for admission or for 



what ; she had applied her hand to a cool smooth spot 
and had waited to see what would happen. Something 
had happened; it was as if a sound, at her touch, after 
a little, had come back to her from within; a sound 
sufficiently suggesting that her approach had been 

If this image, however, may represent our young 
woman's consciousness of a recent change in her life 
a change now but a few days old it must at the 
same time be observed that she both sought and found 
in renewed circulation, as I have called it, a measure 
of relief from the idea of having perhaps to answer for 
what she had done. The pagoda in her blooming gar 
den figured the arrangement how otherwise was it to 
be named ? by which, so strikingly, she had been able 
to marry without breaking, as she liked to put it, with 
her past. She had surrendered herself to her hus 
band without the shadow of a reserve or a condition, 
and yet she had not, all the while, given up her father 
by the least little inch. She had compassed the high 
felicity of seeing the two men beautifully take to each 
other, and nothing in her marriage had marked it as 
more happy than this fact of its having practically 
given the elder, the lonelier, a new friend. What had 
moreover all the while enriched the whole aspect of 
success was that the latter's marriage had been no more 
measurably paid for than her own. His having taken 
the same great step in the same free way had not in the 
least involved the relegation of his daughter. That it 
was remarkable they should have been able at once so 
to separate and so to keep together had never for a 



moment, from however far back, been equivocal to her ; 
that it was remarkable had in fact quite counted, at 
first and always, and for each of them equally, as part 
of their inspiration and their support. There were 
plenty of singular things they were not enamoured of 
flights of brilliancy, of audacity, of originality, that, 
speaking at least for the dear man and herself, were 
not at all in their line ; but they liked to think they had 
given their life this unusual extension and this liberal 
form, which many families, many couples, and still 
more many pairs of couples, would not have found 
workable. That last truth had been distinctly brought 
home to them by the bright testimony, the quite ex 
plicit envy, of most of their friends, who had remarked 
to them again and again that they must, on all the 
showing, to keep on such terms, be people of the high 
est amiability equally including in the praise, of 
course, Amerigo and Charlotte. It had given them 
pleasure as how should it not? to find themselves 
shed such a glamour; it had certainly, that is, given 
pleasure to her father and herself, both of them dis- 
tinguishably of a nature so slow to presume that they 
would scarce have been sure of their triumph without 
this pretty reflection of it. So it was that their felicity 
had fructified; so it was that the ivory tower, visible 
and admirable doubtless, from any point of the social 
field, had risen stage by stage. Maggie's actual re 
luctance to ask herself with proportionate sharpness 
why she had ceased to take comfort in the sight of it 
represented accordingly a lapse from that ideal con 
sistency on \vhich her moral comfort almost at any 



time depended. To remain consistent she had always 
been capable of cutting down more or less her prior 

Moving for the first time in her life as in the dark 
ening shadow of a false position, she reflected that she 
should either not have ceased to be right that is, to be 
confident or have recognised that she was wrong; 
though she tried to deal with herself, for a space, only 
as a silken-coated spaniel who has scrambled out of a 
pond and who rattles the water from his ears. Her 
shake of her head, again and again, as she went, was 
much of that order, and she had the resource, to which, 
save for the rude equivalent of his generalising bark, 
the spaniel would have been a stranger, of humming 
to herself hard as a sign that nothing had happened to 
her. She had not, so to speak, fallen in ; she had had 
no accident and had not got wet ; this at any rate was 
her pretension until after she began a little to wonder 
if she mightn't, with or without exposure, have taken 
cold. She could at all events remember no time at 
which she had felt so excited, and certainly none 
which was another special point that so brought with 
it as well the necessity for concealing excitement. This 
birth of a new eagerness became a high pastime, in her 
view, precisely by reason of the ingenuity required for 
keeping the thing born out of sight. The ingenuity 
was thus a private and absorbing exercise, in the light 
of which, might I so far multiply my metaphors, I 
should compare her to the frightened but clinging 
young mother of an unlawful child. The idea that 
had possession of her would be, by our new analogy, 



the proof of her misadventure, but likewise, all the 
while, only another sign of a relation that was more 
to her than anything on earth. She had lived long 
enough to make out for herself that any deep-seated 
passion has its pangs as well as its joys, and that we 
are made by its aches and its anxieties most richly 
conscious of it. She had never doubted of the force 
of the feeling that bound her to her husband; but to 
become aware, almost suddenly, that it had begun to 
vibrate with a violence that had some of the effect of 
a strain would, rightly looked at, after all but show 
that she was, like thousands of women, every day, act 
ing up to the full privilege of passion. Why in the 
world shouldn't she, with every right if, on consid 
eration, she saw no good reason against it ? The best 
reason against it would have been the possibility of 
some consequence disagreeable or inconvenient to 
others especially to such others as had never incom 
moded her by the egotism of their passions ; but if once 
that danger were duly guarded against the fulness of 
one's measure amounted to no more than the equal use 
of one's faculties or the proper playing of one's part. 
It had come to the Princess, obscurely at first, but little 
by little more conceivably, that her faculties had not 
for a good while been concomitantly used ; the case re 
sembled in a manner that of her once-loved dancing, 
a matter of remembered steps that had grown vague 
from her ceasing to go to balls. She would go to balls 
again that seemed, freely, even crudely, stated, the 
remedy; she would take out of the deep receptacles in 
which she had laid them away the various ornaments 



congruous with the greater occasions, and of which her 
store, she liked to think, was none of the smallest. 
She would have been easily to be figured for us at this 
occupation; dipping, at off moments and quiet hours, 
in snatched visits and by draughty candle-light, into 
her rich collections and seeing her jewels again a little 
shyly, but all unmistakably, glow. That in fact may 
pass as the very picture of her semi-smothered agita 
tion, of the diversion she to some extent successfully 
found in referring her crisis, so far as was possible, to 
the mere working of her own needs. 

It must be added, however, that she would have been 
at a loss to determine and certainly at first to which 
order, that of self-control or that of large expression, 
the step she had taken the afternoon of her husband's 
return from Matcham with his companion properly 
belonged. For it had been a step, distinctly, on Mag 
gie's part, her deciding to do something, just then and 
there, which would strike Amerigo as unusual, and 
this even though her departure from custom had merely 
consisted in her so arranging that he wouldn't find her, 
as he would definitely expect to do, in Eaton Square. 
He would have, strangely enough, as might seem to 
him, to come back home for it, and there get the im 
pression of her rather pointedly, or at least all impa 
tiently and independently, awaiting him. These were 
small variations and mild manoeuvres, but they went 
accompanied on Maggie's part, as we have mentioned, 
with an infinite sense of intention. Her watching by 
his fireside for her husband's return from an absence 
might superficially have presented itself as the most 



natural act in the world, and the only one, into the bar 
gain, on which he would positively have reckoned. 
It fell by this circumstance into the order of plain mat 
ters, and yet the very aspect by which it was, in the 
event, handed over to her brooding fancy was the fact 
that she had done with it all she had designed. She 
had put her thought to the proof, and the proof had 
shown its edge ; this was what was before her, that she 
was no longer playing with blunt and idle tools, with 
weapons that didn't cut. There passed across her 
vision ten times a day the gleam of a bare blade, and at 
this it was that she most shut her eyes, most knew the 
impulse to cheat herself with motion and sound. She 
had merely driven, on a certain Wednesday, to Port 
land Place, instead of remaining in Eaton Square, and 
she privately repeated it again and again there had 
appeared beforehand no reason why she should have 
seen the mantle of history flung, by a single sharp 
sweep, over so commonplace a deed. That, all the same, 
was what had happened; it had been bitten into her 
mind, all in an hour, that nothing she had ever done 
would hereafter, in some way yet to be determined, so 
count for her perhaps not even what she had done in 
accepting, in their old golden Rome, Amerigo's pro 
posal of marriage. And yet, by her little crouching 
posture there, that of a timid tigress, she had meant 
nothing recklessly ultimate, nothing clumsily funda 
mental; so that she called it names, the invidious, the 
grotesque attitude, holding it up to her own ridicule, 
reducing so far as she could the portee of what had fol 
lowed it. She had but wanted to get nearer nearer 



to something indeed that she couldn't, that she 
wouldn't, even to herself, describe; and the degree of 
this achieved nearness was what had been in advance 
incalculable. Her actual multiplication of distrac 
tions and suppressions, whatever it did for her, failed 
to prevent her living over again any chosen minute 
for she could choose them, she could fix them of the 
freshness of relation produced by her having adminis 
tered to her husband the first surprise to which she had 
ever treated him. It had been a poor thing, but it had 
been all her own, and the whole passage was back- 
wardly there, a great picture hung on the wall of her 
daily life, for her to make what she would of. 

It fell, for retrospect, into a succession of moments 
that were zvatchable still ; almost in the manner of the 
different things done during a scene on the stage, some 
scene so acted as to have left a great impression on the 
tenant of one of the stalls. Several of these moments 
stood out beyond the others, and those she could feel 
again most, count again like the firm pearls on a string, 
had belonged more particularly to the lapse of time 
before dinner dinner which had been so late, quite at 
nine o'clock, that evening, thanks to the final lateness 
of Amerigo's own advent. These were parts of the 
experience though in fact there had been a good 
many of them between which her impression could 
continue sharply to discriminate. Before the subse 
quent passages, much later on, it was to be said, the 
flame of memory turned to an equalising glow, that of 
a lamp in some side-chapel in which incense was thick. 
The great moment, at any rate, for conscious repos- 



session, was doubtless the first : the strange little timed 
silence which she had fully gauged, on the spot, as 
altogether beyond her own intention, but which for 
just how long? should she ever really know for just 
how long? she could do nothing to break. She was 
in the smaller drawing-room, in which she always 
"sat," and she had, by calculation, dressed for dinner 
on finally coming in. It was a wonder how many 
things she had calculated in respect to this small inci 
dent a matter for the importance of which she had so 
quite indefinite a measure. He would be late he 
would be very late; that was the one certainty that 
seemed to look her in the face. There was still also 
the possibility that if he drove with Charlotte straight 
to Eaton Square he might think it best to remain there 
even on learning she had come away. She had left 
no message for him on any such chance; this was 
another of her small shades of decision, though the 
effect of it might be to keep him still longer absent. 
He might suppose she would already have dined; he 
might stay, with all he would have to tell, just on pur 
pose to be nice to her father. She had known him to 
stretch the point, to these beautiful ends, far beyond 
that ; he had more than once stretched it to the sacrifice 
of the opportunity of dressing. 

If she herself had now avoided any such sacrifice, 
and had made herself, during the time at her disposal, 
quite inordinately fresh and quite positively smart, this 
had probably added, while she waited and waited, to 
that very tension of spirit in which she was afterwards 
to find the image of her having crouched. She did her 



best, quite intensely, by herself, to banish any such ap 
pearance; she couldn't help it if she couldn't read her 
pale novel ah, that, par exemple, was beyond her! 
but she could at least sit by the lamp with the book, sit 
there with her newest frock, worn for the first time, 
sticking out, all round her, quite stiff and grand ; even 
perhaps a little too stiff and too grand for a familiar 
and domestic frock, yet marked none the less, this time, 
she ventured to hope, by incontestable intrinsic merit. 
She had glanced repeatedly at the clock, but she had 
refused herself the weak indulgence of walking up and 
down, though the act of doing so, she knew, would 
make her feel, on the polished floor, with the rustle and 
the "hang," still more beautifully bedecked. The 
difficulty was that it would also make her feel herself 
still more sharply in a state; which was exactly what 
she proposed not to do. The only drops of her anxiety 
had been when her thought strayed complacently, with 
her eyes, to the front of her gown, which was in a 
manner a refuge, a beguilement, especially when she 
was able to fix it long enough to wonder if it would at 
last really satisfy Charlotte. She had ever been, in 
respect to her clothes, rather timorous and uncertain; 
for the last year, above all, she had lived in the light of 
Charlotte's possible and rather inscrutable judgment 
of them. Charlotte's own were simply the most charm 
ing and interesting that any woman had ever put on ; 
there was a kind of poetic justice in her being at last 
able, in this particular, thanks to means, thanks quite to 
omnipotence, freely to exercise her genius. But Mag 
gie would have described herself as, in these connec- 



tions, constantly and intimately "torn"; conscious on 
one side of the impossibility of copying her compan 
ion and conscious on the other of the impossibility of 
sounding her, independently, to the bottom. Yes, it 
was one of the things she should go down to her grave 
without having known how Charlotte, after all had 
been said, really thought her stepdaughter looked 
under any supposedly ingenious personal experiment. 
She had always been lovely about the stepdaughter's 
material braveries had done, for her, the very best 
with them; but there had ever fitfully danced at the 
back of Maggie's head the suspicion that these expres 
sions were mercies, not judgments, embodying no 
absolute, but only a relative, frankness. Hadn't Char 
lotte, with so perfect a critical vision, if the truth were 
known, given her up as hopeless hopeless by a seri 
ous standard, and thereby invented for her a different 
and inferior one, in which, as the only thing to be done, 
she patiently and soothingly abetted her ? Hadn't she, 
in other words, assented in secret despair, perhaps even 
in secret irritation, to her being ridiculous? so that 
the best now possible was to wonder, once in a great 
while, whether one mightn't give her the surprise of 
something a little less out of the true note than usual. 
Something of this kind was the question that Maggie, 
while the absentees still delayed, asked of the appear 
ance she was endeavouring to present ; but with the re 
sult, repeatedly again, that it only went and lost itself 
in the thick air that had begun more and more to hang, 
for our young woman, over her accumulations of the 
unanswered. They were there, these accumulations; 



they were like a roomful of confused objects, never as 
yet "sorted," which for some time now she had been 
passing and re-passing, along the corridor of her life. 
She passed it when she could without opening the door ; 
then, on occasion, she turned the key to throw in a fresh 
contribution. So it was that she had been getting 
things out of the way. They rejoined the rest of the 
confusion ; it was as if they found their place, by some 
instinct of affinity, in the heap. They knew, in short, 
where to go ; and when she, at present, by a mental act, 
once more pushed the door open, she had practically 
a sense of method and experience. What she should 
never know about Charlotte's thought she tossed that 
in. It would find itself in company, and she might 
at last have been standing there long enough to see it 
fall into its corner. The sight moreover would doubt 
less have made her stare, had her attention been more 
free the sight of the mass of vain things, congruous, 
incongruous, that awaited every addition. It made 
her in fact, with a vague gasp, turn away, and what 
had further determined this was the final sharp ex 
tinction of the inward scene by the outward. The 
quite different door had opened and her husband was 

It had been as strange as she could consent, after 
wards, to think it; it had been, essentially, what had 
made the abrupt bend in her life: he had come back, 
had followed her from the other house, visibly uncer 
tain this was written in the face he for the first min 
ute showed her. It had been written only for those 
seconds, and it had appeared to go, quickly, after they 



began to talk; but while it lasted it had been written 
large, and, though she didn't quite know what she had 
expected of him, she felt she hadn't expected the least 
shade of embarrassment. What had made the embar 
rassment she called it embarrassment so as to be able 
to assure herself she put it at the very worst what had 
made the particular look was his thus distinguishably 
wishing to see how he should find her. Why first ? 
that had, later on, kept coming to her; the question 
dangled there as if it were the key to everything. With 
the sense of it on the spot, she had felt, overwhelmingly, 
that she was significant, that so she must instantly 
strike him, and that this had a kind of violence beyond 
what she had intended. It was in fact even at the 
moment not absent from her view that he might easily 
have made an abject fool of her at least for the time. 
She had indeed, for just ten seconds, been afraid of 
some such turn : the uncertainty in his face had become 
so, the next thing, an uncertainty in the very air. 
Three words of impatience the least bit loud, some out 
break of "What in the world are you 'up to,' and what 
do you mean?" any note of that sort would instantly 
have brought her low and this all the more that 
heaven knew she hadn't in any manner designed to be 
high. It was such a trifle, her small breach with cus 
tom, or at any rate with his natural presumption, that 
all magnitude of wonder had already had, before one 
could deprecate the shadow of it, the effect of a com 
plication. It had made for him some difference that 
she couldn't measure, this meeting him at home and 
alone instead of elsewhere and with others, and back 



and back it kept coming to her that the blankness he 
showed her before he was able to see might, should 
she choose to insist on it, have a meaning have, as 
who should say, an historic value beyond the im 
portance of momentary expressions in general. She 
had naturally had on the spot no ready notion of what 
he might want to see ; it was enough for a ready notion, 
not to speak of a beating heart, that he did see, that he 
saw his wife in her own drawing-room at the hour 
when she would most properly be there. 

He hadn't in any way challenged her, it was true, 
and, after those instants during which she now believed 
him to have been harbouring the impression of some 
thing unusually prepared and pointed in her attitude 
and array, he had advanced upon her smiling and smil 
ing, and thus, without hesitation at the last, had taken 
her into his arms. The hesitation had been at the first, 
and she at present saw that he had surmounted it with 
out her help. She had given him no help ; for if, on 
the one hand, she couldn't speak for hesitation, so on 
the other and especially as he didn't ask her she 
couldn't explain why she was agitated. She had 
known it all the while down to her toes, known it in 
his presence with fresh intensity, and if he had uttered 
but a question it would have pressed in her the spring 
of recklessness. It had been strange that the most 
natural thing of all to say to him should have had that 
appearance ; but she was more than ever conscious that 
any appearance she had would come round, more or 
less straight, to her father, whose life was now so quiet, 
on the basis accepted for it, that any alteration of his 

VOL. II. a 17 


consciousness, even in the possible sense of enliven- 
ment, would make their precious equilibrium waver. 
That was at the bottom of her mind, that their equilib 
rium was everything, and that it was practically pre 
carious, a matter of a hair's breadth for the loss of the 
balance. It was the equilibrium, or at all events her 
conscious fear about it, that had brought her heart into 
her mouth; and the same fear was, on either side, in 
the silent look she and Amerigo had exchanged. The 
happy balance that demanded this amount of consid 
eration was truly thus, as by its own confession, a deli 
cate matter ; but that her husband had also his habit of 
anxiety and his general caution only brought them, 
after all, more closely together. It would have been 
most beautifully, therefore, in the name of the equi 
librium, and in that of her joy at their feeling so ex 
actly the same about it, that she might have spoken if 
she had permitted the truth on the subject of her 
behaviour to ring out on the subject of that poor little 
behaviour which was for the moment so very limited 
a case of eccentricity. 

1 'Why, why' have I made this evening such a point 
of our not all dining together ? Well, because I've all 
day been so wanting you alone that I finally couldn't 
bear it, and that there didn't seem any great reason why 
I should try to. That came to me funny as it may at 
first sound, with all the things we've so wonderfully 
got into the way of bearing for each other. You've 
seemed these last days I don't know what : more 
absent than ever before, too absent for us merely to go 
on so. It's all very well, and I perfectly see how beau- 



tiful it is, all round ; but there comes a day when some 
thing snaps, when the full cup, filled to the very brim, 
begins to flow over. That's what has happened to my 
need of you the cup, all day, has been too full to 
carry. So here I am with it, spilling it over you and 
just for the reason that is the reason of my life. After 
all, I've scarcely to explain that I'm as much in love 
with you now as the first hour; except that there are 
some hours which I know when they come, because 
they almost frighten me that show me I'm even more 
so. They come of themselves and, ah, they've been 

coming ! After all, after all !" Some such words 

as those were what didn't ring out, yet it was as if even 
the unuttered sound had been quenched here in its own 
quaver. It was where utterance would have broken 
down by its very weight if he had let it get so far. 
Without that extremity, at the end of a moment, he had 
taken in what he needed to take that his wife was 
testifying, that she adored and missed and desired him. 
"After all, after all," since she put it so, she was right. 
That was what he had to respond to ; that was what, 
from the moment that, as has been said, he "saw," he 
had to treat as the most pertinent thing possible. He 
held her close and long, in expression of their personal 
reunion this, obviously, was one way of doing so. He 
rubbed his cheek, tenderly, and with a deep vague 
murmur, against her face, that side of her face she 
was not pressing to his breast. That was, not less 
obviously, another way, and there were ways enough, 
in short, for his extemporised ease, for the good 
humour she was afterwards to find herself thinking of 


as his infinite tact. This last was partly, no doubt, 
because the question of tact might be felt as having 
come up at the end of a quarter of an hour during 
which he had liberally talked and she had genially 
questioned. He had told her of his day, the happy 
thought of his roundabout journey with Charlotte, all 
their cathedral-hunting adventure, and how it had 
turned out rather more of an affair than they expected. 
The moral of it was, at any rate, that he was tired, 
verily, and must have a bath and dress to which end 
she would kindly excuse him for the shortest time pos 
sible. She was to remember afterwards something 
that had passed between them on this how he had 
looked, for her, during an instant, at the door, before 
going out, how he had met her asking him, in hesita 
tion first, then quickly in decision, whether she couldn't 
help him by going up with him. He had perhaps also 
for a moment hesitated, but he had declined her offer, 
and she was to preserve, as I say, the memory of the 
smile with which he had opined that at that rate they 
wouldn't dine till ten o'clock and that he should go 
straighter and faster alone. Such things, as I say, 
were to come back to her they played, through her 
full after-sense, like lights on the whole impression ; the 
subsequent parts of the experience were not to have 
blurred their distinctness. One of these subsequent 
parts, the first, had been the not inconsiderable length, 
to her later and more analytic consciousness, of this 
second wait for her husband's reappearance. She 
might certainly, with the best will in the world, had 
she gone up with him, have been more in his way than 



not, since people could really, almost always, hurry 
better without help than with it. Still, she could 
hardly have made him take more time than he struck 
her as actually taking, though it must indeed be added 
that there was now in this much-thinking little person's 
state of mind no mere crudity of impatience. Some 
thing had happened, rapidly, with the beautiful sight 
of him and with the drop of her fear of having annoyed 
him by making him go to and fro. Subsidence of the 
fearsome, for Maggie's spirit, was always, at first, 
positive emergence of the sweet, and it was long since 
anything had been so sweet to her as the particular 
quality suddenly given by her present emotion to the 
sense of possession. 



AMERIGO was away from her again, as she sat there, 
as she walked there without him for she had, with 
the difference of his presence in the house, ceased to 
keep herself from moving about; but the hour was 
filled nevertheless with the effect of his nearness, and 
above all with the effect, strange in an intimacy so 
established, of an almost renewed vision of the facts 
of his aspect. She had seen him last but five days 
since, yet he had stood there before her as if restored 
from some far country, some long voyage, some com 
bination of dangers or fatigues. This unquenchable 
variety in his appeal to her interest, what did it mean 
but that reduced to the flatness of mere statement 
she was married, by good fortune, to an altogether 
dazzling person ? That was an old, old story, but the 
truth of it shone out to her like the beauty of some 
family picture, some mellow portrait of an ancestor, 
that she might have been looking at, almost in sur 
prise, after a long intermission. The dazzling person 
was upstairs and she was down, and there were more 
over the other facts of the selection and decision that 
this demonstration of her own had required, and of 
the constant care that the equilibrium involved ; but she 
had, all the same, never felt so absorbingly married, so 



abjectly conscious of a master of her fate. He could 
do what he would with her ; in fact what was actually 
happening was that he was actually doing it. "What 
he would," what he really would only that quantity 
itself escaped perhaps, in the brightness of the high 
harmony, familiar naming and discussing. It was 
enough of a recognition for her that, whatever the 
thing he might desire, he would always absolutely 
bring it off. She knew at this moment, without a 
question, with the fullest surrender, how he had 
brought off, in her, by scarce more than a single allu 
sion, a perfect flutter of tenderness. If he had come 
back tired, tired from his long day, the exertion had 
been, literally, in her service and her father's. They 
two had sat at home at peace, the Principino between 
them, the complications of life kept down, the bores 
sifted out, the large ease of the home preserved, be 
cause of the way the others held the field and braved 
the weather. Amerigo never complained any more 
than, for that matter, Charlotte did ; but she seemed to 
see to-night as she had never yet quite done that their 
business of social representation, conceived as they con 
ceived it, beyond any conception of her own, and 
conscientiously carried out, was an affair of living al 
ways in harness. She remembered Fanny Assingham's 
old judgment, that friend's description of her father 
and herself as not living at all, as not knowing what to 
do or what might be done for them; and there came 
back to her with it an echo of the long talk they had 
had together, one September day at Fawns, under the 
trees, when she put before him this dictum of Fanny's. 



That occasion might have counted for them she 
had already often made the reflection as the first step 
in an existence more intelligently arranged. It had 
been an hour from which the chain of causes and 
consequences was definitely traceable so many things, 
and at the head of the list her father's marriage, having 
appeared to her to flow from Charlotte's visit to Fawns, 
and that event itself having flowed from the memorable 
talk. But what perhaps most came out in the light 
of these concatenations was that it had been, for all 
the world, as if Charlotte had been "had in," as the 
servants always said of extra help, because they had 
thus suffered it to be pointed out to them that if their 
family coach lumbered and stuck the fault was in its 
Jacking its complement of wheels. Having but three, 
as they might say, it had wanted another, and what 
had Charlotte done from the first but begin to act, on 
the spot, and ever so smoothly and beautifully, as a 
fourth? Nothing had been, immediately, more mani 
fest than the greater grace of the movement of the 
vehicle as to which, for the completeness of her 
image, Maggie was now supremely to feel how every 
strain had been lightened for herself. So far as she 
was one of the wheels she had but to keep in her place ; 
since the work was done for her she felt no weight, 
and it wasn't too much to acknowledge that she had 
scarce to turn round. She had a long pause before 
the fire during which she might have been fixing with 
intensity her projected vision, have been conscious 
even of its taking an absurd, fantastic shape. She 
might have been watching the family coach pass and 



noting that, somehow, Amerigo and Charlotte were 
pulling it while she and her father were not so much 
as pushing. They were seated inside together, dand 
ling the Principino and holding him up to the win 
dows, to see and be seen, like an infant positively royal ; 
so that the exertion was all with the others. Maggie 
found in this image a repeated challenge; again and 
yet again she paused before the fire : after which, each 
time, in the manner of one for whom a strong light 
has suddenly broken, she gave herself to livelier move 
ment. She had seen herself at last, in the picture 
she was studying, suddenly jump from the coach; 
whereupon, frankly, with the wonder of the sight, 
her eyes opened wider and her heart stood still for a 
moment. She looked at the person so acting as if 
this person were somebody else, waiting with intensity 
to see what would follow. The person had taken a 
decision which was evidently because an impulse 
long gathering had at last felt a sharpest pressure. 
Only how was the decision to be applied? what, in 
particular, would the figure in the picture do? She 
looked about her, from the middle of the room, un 
der the force of this question, as if there, exactly, were 
the field of action involved. Then, as the door opened 
again, she recognised, whatever the action, the form, at 
any rate, of a first opportunity. Her husband had re 
appeared he stood before her refreshed, almost radi 
ant, quite reassuring. Dressed, anointed, fragrant, 
ready, above all, for his dinner, he smiled at her over 
the end of their delay. It was as if her opportunity 
had depended on his look and now she saw that it 



was good. There was still, for the instant, something 
in suspense, but it passed more quickly than on his pre 
vious entrance. He was already holding out his arms. 
It was, for hours and hours, later on, as if she had 
somehow been lifted aloft, were floated and carried 
on some warm high tide beneath which stumbling- 
blocks had sunk out of sight. This came from her 
being again, for the time, in the enjoyment of con 
fidence, from her knowing, as she believed, what to 
do. All the next day, and all the next, she appeared 
to herself to know it. She had a plan, and she re 
joiced in her plan : this consisted of the light that, sud 
denly breaking into her restless reverie, had marked 
the climax of that vigil. It had come to her as a 
question "What if I've abandoned them, you know? 
What if I've accepted too passively the funny form 
of our life?" There would be a process of her own 
by which she might do differently in respect to Ameri 
go and Charlotte a process quite independent of any 
process of theirs. Such a solution had but to rise 
before her to affect her, to charm her, with its sim 
plicity, an advantageous simplicity she had been stupid, 
for so long, not to have been struck by; and the sim 
plicity meanwhile seemed proved by the success that 
had already begun to attend her. She had only had 
herself to do something to see how immediately it an 
swered. This consciousness of its having answered 
with her husband was the uplifting, sustaining wave. 
He had "met" her she so put it to herself; met her 
with an effect of generosity and of gaiety, in 
especial, on his coming back to her ready for dinner, 



which she wore in her breast as the token of an escape 
for them both from something not quite definite, but 
clearly much less good. Even at that moment, in fact, 
her plan had begun to work; she had been, when he 
brightly reappeared, in the act of plucking it out of 
the heart of her earnestness plucking it, in the garden 
of thought, as if it had been some full-blown flower 
that she could present to him on the spot. Well, it 
was the flower of participation, and as that, then and 
there, she held it out to him, putting straightway into 
execution the idea, so needlessly, so absurdly obscured, 
of her sharing with him, whatever the enjoyment, the 
interest, the experience might be and sharing also, 
for that matter, with Charlotte. 

She had thrown herself, at dinner, into every feature 
of the recent adventure of the companions, letting him 
see, without reserve, that she wished to hear everything 
about it, and making Charlotte in particular, Charlotte's 
judgment of Matcham, Charlotte's aspect, her success 
there, her effect traceably produced, her clothes in 
imitably worn, her cleverness gracefully displayed, her 
social utility, in fine, brilliantly exemplified, the sub 
ject of endless inquiry. Maggie's inquiry was most 
sympathetic, moreover, for the whole happy thought 
of the cathedral-hunt, which she was so glad they had 
entertained, and as to the pleasant results of which, 
down to the cold beef and bread-and-cheese, the queer 
old smell and the dirty table-cloth at the inn, Amerigo 
was good-humouredly responsive. He had looked at 
her across the table, more than once, as if touched by 
the humility of this welcome offered to impressions at 



second-hand, the amusements, the large freedoms only 
of others as if recognising in it something fairly ex 
quisite; and at the end, while they were alone, before 
she had rung for a servant, he had renewed again his 
condonation of the little irregularity, such as it was, 
on which she had ventured. They had risen together 
to come upstairs ; he had been talking at the last about 
some of the people, at the very last of all about Lady 
Castledean and Mr. Blint; after which she had once 
more broken ground on the matter of the "type" of 
Gloucester. It brought her, as he came round the 
table to join her, yet another of his kind conscious 
stares, one of the looks, visibly beguiled, but at the 
same time not invisibly puzzled, with which he had 
already shown his sense of this charming grace of her 
curiosity. It was as if he might for a moment be 
going to say : "You needn't pretend, dearest, quite so 
hard, needn't think it necessary to care quite so much !" 
it was as if he stood there before her with some 
such easy intelligence, some such intimate reassurance, 
on his lips. Her answer would have been all ready 
that she wasn't in the least pretending; and she looked 
up at him, while he took her hand, with the main 
tenance, the real persistence, of her lucid little plan 
in her eyes. She wanted him to understand from that 
very moment that she was going to be with him again, 
quite with them, together, as she doubtless hadn't been 
since the "funny" changes that was really all one 
could call them into which they had each, as for the 
sake of the others, too easily and too obligingly slipped. 
They had taken too much for granted that their life 



together required, as people in London said, a special 
"form" which was very well so long as the form was 
kept only for the outside world and was made no more 
of among themselves than the pretty mould of an iced 
pudding, or something of that sort, into which, to help 
yourself, you didn't hesitate to break with the spoon. 
So much as that she would, with an opening, have al 
lowed herself furthermore to observe; she wanted him 
to understand how her scheme embraced Charlotte 
too ; so that if he had but uttered the acknowledgment 
she judged him on the point of making the acknowl 
edgment of his catching at her brave little idea for 
their case she would have found herself, as distinctly, 
voluble almost to eloquence. 

What befell, however, was that even while she thus 
waited she felt herself present at a process taking place 
rather deeper within him than the occasion, on the 
whole, appeared to require a process of weighing 
something in the balance, of considering, deciding, dis 
missing. He had guessed that she was there with an 
idea, there in fact by reason of her idea; only this, 
oddly enough, was what at the last stayed his words. 
She was helped to these perceptions by his now looking 
at her still harder than he had yet done which really 
brought it to the turn of a hair, for her, that she 
didn't make sure his notion of her idea was the right 
one. It was the turn of a hair, because he had posses 
sion of her hands and was bending toward her, ever 
so kindly, as if to see, to understand, more, or pos 
sibly give more she didn't know which; and that had 
the effect of simply putting her, as she worid have said, 



in his power. She gave up, let her idea go, let every 
thing go ; her one consciousness was that he was taking 
her again into his arms. It was not till afterwards 
that she discriminated as to this; felt how the act 
operated with him instead of the words he hadn't 
uttered operated, in his view, as probably better than 
any words, as always better, in fact, at any time, than 
anything. Her acceptance of it, her response to it, 
inevitable, foredoomed, came back to her, later on, as 
a virtual assent to the assumption he had thus made 
that there was really nothing such a demonstration 
didn't anticipate and didn't dispose of, and that the 
spring acting within herself moreover might well have 
been, beyond any other, the impulse legitimately to pro 
voke it. It made, for any issue, the third time since 
his return that he had drawn her to his breast; and 
at present, holding her to his side as they left the 
room, he kept her close for their moving into the 
hall and across it, kept her for their slow return to 
gether to the apartments above. He had been right, 
overwhelmingly right, as to the felicity of his tender 
ness and the degree of her sensibility, but even while 
she felt these things sweep all others away she tasted 
of a sort of terror of the weakness they produced in 
her. It was still, for her, that she had positively 
something to do, and that she mustn't be weak for 
this, must much rather be strong. For many hours 
after, none the less, she remained weak if weak it 
was; though holding fast indeed to the theory of her 
success, since her agitated overture had been, after 
all, so unmistakably met. 



She recovered soon enough, on the whole, the sense 
that this left her Charlotte always to deal with Char 
lotte who, at any rate, however she might meet over 
tures, must meet them, at the worst, more or less dif 
ferently. Of that inevitability, of such other ranges 
of response as were open to Charlotte, Maggie took 
the measure in approaching her, on the morrow of her 
return from Matcham, with the same show of desire to 
hear all her story. She wanted the whole picture 
from her, as she had wanted it from her companion, 
and, promptly, in Eaton Square, whither, without the 
Prince, she repaired, almost ostentatiously, for the pur 
pose, this purpose only, she brought her repeatedly 
back to the subject, both in her husband's presence and 
during several scraps of independent colloquy. Before 
her father, instinctively, Maggie took the ground that 
his wish for interesting echoes would be not less than 
her own allowing, that is, for everything his wife 
would already have had to tell him, for such passages, 
between them, as might have occurred since the even 
ing before. Joining them after luncheon, reaching 
them, in her desire to proceed with the application of 
her idea, before they had quitted the breakfast-room, 
the scene of their mid-day meal, she referred, in her 
parent's presence, to what she might have lost by delay, 
and expressed the hope that there would be an anec 
dote or two left for her to pick up. Charlotte was 
dressed to go out, and her husband, it appeared, rather 
positively prepared not to; he had left the table, but 
was seated near the fire with two or three of the 
morning papers and the residuum of the second and 


third posts on a stand beside him more even than the 
usual extravagance, as Maggie's glance made out, of 
circulars, catalogues, advertisements, announcements 
of sales, foreign envelopes and foreign handwritings 
that were as unmistakable as foreign clothes. Char 
lotte, at the window, looking into the side-street that 
abutted on the Square, might have been watching for 
their visitor's advent before withdrawing; and in the 
light, strange and coloured, like that of a painted pic 
ture, which fixed the impression for her, objects took 
on values not hitherto so fully shown. It was the 
effect of her quickened sensibility; she knew herself 
again in presence of a problem, in need of a solution 
for which she must intensely work : that consciousness, 
lately born in her, had been taught the evening before 
to accept a temporary lapse, but had quickly enough 
again, with her getting out of her own house and her 
walking across half the town for she had come from 
Portland Place on foot found breath still in its lungs. 
It exhaled this breath in a sigh, faint and unheard; 
her tribute, while she stood there before speaking, to 
realities looming through the golden mist that had al 
ready begun to be scattered. The conditions facing her 
had yielded, for the time, to the golden mist had con 
siderably melted away; but there they were again, 
definite, and it was for the next quarter of an hour 
as if she could have counted them one by one on her 
fingers. Sharp to her above all was the renewed at 
testation of her father's comprehensive acceptances, 
which she had so long regarded as of the same quality 
with her own, but which, so distinctly now, she should 



have the complication of being obliged to deal with 
separately. They had not yet struck her as absolutely 
extraordinary which had made for her lumping them 
with her own, since her view of her own had but so 
lately begun to change; though it instantly stood out 
for her that there was really no new judgment of them 
she should be able to show without attracting in some 
degree his attention, without perhaps exciting his sur 
prise and making thereby, for the situation she shared 
with him, some difference. She was reminded and 
warned by the concrete image ; and for a minute Char 
lotte's face, immediately presented to her, affected her 
as searching her own to see the reminder tell. She 
had not less promptly kissed her stepmother, and then 
had bent over her father, from behind, and laid her 
cheek upon him ; little amenities tantamount heretofore 
to an easy change of guard Charlotte's own frequent, 
though always cheerful, term of comparison for this 
process of transfer. Maggie figured thus as the re 
lieving sentry, and so smoothly did use and custom 
work for them that her mate might even, on this 
occasion, after acceptance of the pass-word, have de 
parted without irrelevant and, in strictness, unsoldierly 
gossip. This was not, none the less, what happened ; 
inasmuch as if our young woman had been floated over 
her first impulse to break the existing charm at a 
stroke, it yet took her but an instant to sound, at any 
risk, the note she had been privately practising. If she 
had practised it the day before, at dinner, on Amerigo, 
she knew but the better how to begin for it with Mrs. 
Verver, and it immensely helped her, for that matter, to 

VOL. II. 3 33 


be able at once to speak of the Prince as having done 
more to quicken than to soothe her curiosity. Frankly 
and gaily she had come to ask to ask what, in their 
unusually prolonged campaign, the two had achieved. 
She had got out of her husband, she admitted, what 
she could, but husbands were never the persons who 
answered such questions ideally. He had only made 
her more curious, and she had arrived early, this way, 
in order to miss as little as possible of Charlotte's story. 
"Wives, papa," she said, "are always much better 
reporters though I grant," she added for Charlotte, 
"that fathers are not much better than husbands. He 
never," she smiled, "tells me more than a tenth of 
what you tell him; so I hope you haven't told him 
everything yet, since in that case I shall probably have 
lost the best part of it." Maggie went, she went she 
felt herself going; she reminded herself of an actress 
who had been studying a part and rehearsing it, but 
who suddenly, on the stage, before the footlights, had 
begun to improvise, to speak lines not in the text. It 
was this very sense of the stage and the footlights that 
kept her up, made her rise higher : just as it was the 
sense of action that logically involved some platform 
action quite positively for the first time in her life, or, 
counting in the previous afternoon, for the second. 
The platform remained for three or four days thus sen 
sibly under her feet, and she had all the while, with 
it, the inspiration of quite remarkably, of quite hero 
ically improvising. Preparation and practice had come 
but a short way ; her part opened out, and she invented 
from moment to moment what to say and to do. She 



had but one rule of art to keep within bounds and 
not lose her head; certainly she might see for a week 
how far that would take her. She said to herself, in 
her excitement, that it was perfectly simple: to bring 
about a difference, touch by touch, without letting 
either of the three, and least of all her father, so much 
as suspect her hand. If they should suspect they 
would want a reason, and the humiliating truth was 
that she wasn't ready with a reason not, that is, with 
what she would have called a reasonable one. She 
thought of herself, instinctively, beautifully, as having 
dealt, all her life, at her father's side and by his ex 
ample, only in reasonable reasons ; and what she would 
really have been most ashamed of would be to produce 
for him, in this line, some inferior substitute. Unless 
she were in a position to plead, definitely, that she was 
jealous she should be in no position to plead, decently, 
that she was dissatisfied. This latter condition would 
be a necessary implication of the former; without the 
former behind it it would have to fall to the ground. 
So had the case, wonderfully, been arranged for her; 
there was a card she could play, but there was only 
one, and to play it would be to end the game. She 
felt herself as at the small square green table, be 
tween the tall old silver candlesticks and the neatly 
arranged counters her father's playmate and partner ; 
and what it constantly came back to, in her mind, was 
that for her to ask a question, to raise a doubt, to 
reflect in any degree on the play of the others, would 
be to break the charm. The charm she had to call it, 
since it kept her companion so constantly engaged, 



so perpetually seated and so contentedly occupied. To 
say anything at all would be, in fine, to have to say why 
she was jealous; and she could, in her private hours, 
but stare long, with suffused eyes, at that impossibility. 
By the end of a week, the week that had begun, 
especially, with her morning hour, in Eaton Square, 
between her father and his wife, her consciousness of 
being beautifully treated had become again verily 
greater than her consciousness of anything else; and 
I must add, moreover, that she at last found herself 
rather oddly wondering what else, as a consciousness, 
could have been quite so overwhelming. Charlotte's 
response to the experiment of being more with her 
ought, as she very well knew, to have stamped the 
experiment with the feeling of success; so that if the 
success itself seemed a boon less substantial than the 
original image of it, it enjoyed thereby a certain an 
alogy with our young woman's aftertaste of Amerigo's 
own determined demonstrations. Maggie was to have 
retained, for that matter, more than one aftertaste, 
and if I have spoken of the impressions fixed in her 
as soon as she had, so insidiously, taken the field, a 
definite note must be made of her perception, during 
those moments, of Charlotte's prompt uncertainty. 
She had shown, no doubt she couldn't not have shown 
that she had arrived with an idea; quite exactly as 
she had shown her husband, the night before, that she 
was awaiting him with a sentiment. This analogy in 
the two situations was to keep up for her the remem 
brance of a kinship of expression in the two faces 
in respect to which all she as yet professed to herself 



was that she had affected them, or at any rate the 
sensibility each of them so admirably covered, in the 
same way. To make the comparison at all was, for 
Maggie, to return to it often, to brood upon it, to 
extract from it the last dregs of its interest to play 
with it, in short, nervously, vaguely, incessantly, as she 
might have played with a medallion containing on 
either side a cherished little portrait and suspended 
round her neck by a gold chain of a firm fineness that 
no effort would ever snap. The miniatures were back 
to back, but she saw them for ever face to face, and 
when she looked from one to the other she found in 
Charlotte's eyes the gleam of the momentary "What 
does she really want?" that had come and gone for her 
in the Prince's. So again, she saw the other light, the 
light touched into a glow both in Portland Place and 
in Eaton Square, as soon as she had betrayed that she 
wanted no harm wanted no greater harm of Char 
lotte, that is, than to take in that she meant to go out 
with her. She had been present at that process as 
personally as she might have been present at some other 
domestic incident the hanging of a new picture, say, 
or the fitting of the Principino with his first little 

She remained present, accordingly, all the week, so 
charmingly and systematically did Mrs. Verver now 
welcome her company. Charlotte had but wanted the 
hint, and what was it but the hint, after all, that, during 
the so subdued but so ineffaceable passage in the break 
fast-room, she had seen her take? It had been taken 
moreover not with resignation, not with qualifications 



or reserves, however bland; it had been taken with 
avidity, with gratitude, with a grace of gentleness that 
supplanted explanations. The very liberality of this 
accommodation might indeed have appeared in the 
event to give its own account of the matter as if it 
had fairly written the Princess down as a person of 
variations and had accordingly conformed but to a 
rule of tact in accepting these caprices for law. The 
caprice actually prevailing happened to be that the ad 
vent of one of the ladies anywhere should, till the fit 
had changed, become the sign, unfailingly, of the ad 
vent of the other; and it was emblazoned, in rich 
colour, on the bright face of this period, that Mrs. 
Verver only wished to know, on any occasion, what 
was expected of her, only held herself there for in 
structions, in order even to better them if possible. 
The two young women, while the passage lasted, be 
came again very much the companions of other days, 
the days of Charlotte's prolonged visits to the admiring 
and bountiful Maggie, the days when equality of condi 
tion for them had been all the result of the latter's 
native vagueness about her own advantages. The 
earlier elements flushed into life again, the frequency, 
the intimacy, the high pitch of accompanying expres 
sion appreciation, endearment, confidence; the rarer 
charm produced in each by this active contribution to 
the felicity of the other : all enhanced, furthermore 
enhanced or qualified, who should say which? by a 
new note of diplomacy, almost of anxiety, just sensible 
on Charlotte's part in particular ; of intensity of observ 
ance, in the matter of appeal and response, in the 



matter of making sure the Princess might be disposed 
or gratified, that resembled an attempt to play again, 
with more refinement, at disparity of relation. Char 
lotte's attitude had, in short, its moments of flowering 
into pretty excesses of civility, self-effacements in the 
presence of others, sudden little formalisms of sugges 
tion and recognition, that might have represented her 
sense of the duty of not "losing sight" of a social dis 
tinction. This impression came out most for Maggie 
when, in their easier intervals, they had only them 
selves to regard, and when her companion's inveteracy 
of never passing first, of not sitting till she was seated, 
of not interrupting till she appeared to give leave, of 
not forgetting, too familiarly, that in addition to being 
important she was also sensitive, had the effect of 
throwing over their intercourse a kind of silver tissue 
of decorum. It hung there above them like a canopy 
of state, a reminder that though the lady-in-waiting 
was an established favourite, safe in her position, a 
little queen, however, good-natured, was always a little 
queen and might, with small warning, remember it. 

And yet another of these concomitants of feverish 
success, all the while, was the perception that in another 
quarter too things were being made easy. Charlotte's 
alacrity in meeting her had, in one sense, operated 
slightly overmuch as an intervention : it had begun to 
reabsorb her at the very hour of her husband's showing 
her that, to be all there, as the phrase was, he likewise 
only required as one of the other phrases was too 
the straight tip. She had heard him talk about the 
straight tip, in his moods of amusement at English 



slang, in his remarkable displays of assimilative power, 
power worthy of better causes and higher inspirations ; 
and he had taken it from her, at need, in a way that, 
certainly in the first glow of relief, had made her 
brief interval seem large. Then, however, immedi 
ately, and even though superficially, there had declared 
itself a readjustment of relations to which she was, 
once more, practically a little sacrificed. "I must do 
everything," she had said, "without letting papa see 
what I do at least till it's done !" but she scarce knew 
how she proposed, even for the next few days, to blind 
or beguile this participant in her life. What had in 
fact promptly enough happened, she presently recog 
nised, was that if her stepmother had beautifully taken 
possession of her, and if she had virtually been rather 
snatched again thereby from her husband's side, so, 
on the other hand, this had, with as little delay, en 
tailed some very charming assistance for her in Eaton 
Square. When she went home with Charlotte, from 
whatever happy demonstration, for the benefit of the 
world in which they supposed themselves to live, that 
there was no smallest reason why their closer associa 
tion shouldn't be public and acclaimed at these times 
she regularly found that Amerigo had come either to 
sit with his father-in-law in the absence of the ladies, 
or to make, on his side, precisely some such display of 
the easy working of the family life as would represent 
the equivalent of her excursions with Charlotte. Un 
der this particular impression it was that everything 
in Maggie most melted and went to pieces every 
thing, that is, that belonged to her disposition to chal- 



lenge the perfection of their common state. It divided 
them again, that was true, this particular turn of the 
tide cut them up afresh into pairs and parties; quite 
as if a sense for the equilibrium was what, between 
them all, had most power of insistence; quite as if 
Amerigo himself were all the while, at bottom, equally 
thinking of it and watching it. But, as against that, 
he was making her father not miss her, and he could 
have rendered neither of them a more excellent service. 
He was acting in short on a cue, the cue given him 
by observation ; it had been enough for him to see the 
shade of change in her behaviour; his instinct for rela 
tions, the most exquisite conceivable, prompted him 
immediately to meet and match the difference, to play 
somehow into its hands. That was what it was, she 
renewedly felt, to have married a man who was, sub 
limely, a gentleman ; so that, in spite of her not wanting 
to translate all their delicacies into the grossness of 
discussion, she yet found again and again, in Portland 
Place, moments for saying : "If I didn't love you, you 
know, for yourself,! should still love you for him." He 
looked at her, after such speeches, as Charlotte looked, 
in Eaton Square, when she called her attention to his 
benevolence: through the dimness of the almost mus 
ing smile that took account of her extravagance, harm 
less though it might be, as a tendency to reckon with. 
"But my poor child," Charlotte might under this pres 
sure have been on the point of replying, "that's the 
way nice people are, all round so that why should one 
be surprised about it? We're all nice together as why 
shouldn't we be ? If we hadn't been we wouldn't have 


gone far and I consider that we've gone very far in 
deed. Why should you 'take on' as if you weren't a 
perfect dear yourself, capable of all the sweetest 
things? as if you hadn't in fact grown up in an at 
mosphere, the atmosphere of all the good things that I 
recognised, even of old, as soon as I came near you, 
and that you've allowed me now, between you, to make 
so blessedly my own." Mrs. Verver might in fact 
have but just failed to make another point, a point 
charmingly natural to her as a grateful and irreproach 
able wife. "It isn't a bit wonderful, I may also remind 
you, that your husband should find, when opportunity 
permits, worse things to do than to go about with 
mine. I happen, love, to appreciate my husband I 
happen perfectly to understand that his acquaintance 
should be cultivated and his company enjoyed." 

Some such happily-provoked remarks as these, from 
Charlotte, at the other house, had been in the air, but 
we have seen how there was also in the air, for our 
young woman, as an emanation from the same source, 
a distilled difference of which the very principle was 
to keep down objections and retorts. That impression 
came back it had its hours of doing so; and it may 
interest us on the ground of its having prompted in 
Maggie a final reflection, a reflection out of the heart 
of which a light flashed for her like a great flower 
grown in a night. As soon as this light had spread a 
little it produced in some quarters a surprising dis 
tinctness, made her of a sudden ask herself why there 
should have been even for three days the least ob 
scurity. The perfection of her success, decidedly, was 



like some strange shore to which she had been noise 
lessly ferried and where, with a start, she found herself 
quaking at the thought that the boat might have put 
off again and left her. The word for it, the word that 
flashed the light, was that they were treating her, that 
they were proceeding with her and, for that matter, 
with her father by a plan that was the exact counter 
part of her own. It was not from her that they took 
their cue, but and this was what in particular made 
her sit up from each other; and with a depth of 
unanimity, an exact coincidence of inspiration that, 
when once her attention had begun to fix it, struck her 
as staring out at her in recovered identities of be 
haviour, expression and tone. They had a view of her 
situation, and of the possible forms her own con 
sciousness of it might take a view determined by 
the change of attitude they had had, ever so subtly, 
to recognise in her on their return from Matcham. 
They had had to read into this small and all-but-sup 
pressed variation a mute comment on they didn't 
quite know what ; and it now arched over the Princess's 
head like a vault of bold span that important com 
munication between them on the subject couldn't have 
failed of being immediate. This new perception 
bristled for her, as we have said, with odd intimations, 
but questions unanswered played in and out of it as 
well the question, for instance, of why such prompti 
tude of harmony should have been important. Ah, 
when she began to recover, piece by piece, the process 
became lively ; she might have been picking small shin 
ing diamonds out of the sweepings of her ordered 



house. She bent, in this pursuit, over her dust-bin; 
she challenged to the last grain the refuse of her inno 
cent economy. Then it was that the dismissed vision 
of Amerigo, that evening, in arrest at the door of her 
salottino while her eyes, from her placed chair, took 
him in then it was that this immense little memory 
gave out its full power. Since the question was of 
doors, she had afterwards, she now saw, shut it out; 
she had responsibly shut in, as we have understood, 
shut in there with her sentient self, only the fact of 
his reappearance and the plenitude of his presence. 
These things had been testimony, after all, to super 
sede any other, for on the spot, even while she looked, 
the warmly-washing wave had travelled far up the 
strand. She had subsequently lived, for hours she 
couldn't count, under the dizzying, smothering welter 
positively in submarine depths where everything 
came to her through walls of emerald and mother-of- 
pearl ; though indeed she had got her head above them, 
for breath, when face to face with Charlotte again, on 
the morrow, in Eaton Square. Meanwhile, none the 
less, as was so apparent, the prior, the prime impres 
sion had remained, in the manner of a spying servant, 
on the other side of the barred threshold; a witness 
availing himself, in time, of the lightest pretext to 
re-enter. It was as if he had found this pretext in 
her observed necessity of comparing comparing the 
obvious common elements in her husband's and her 
stepmother's ways of now "taking" her. With or 
without her witness, at any rate, she was led by com 
parison to a sense of the quantity of earnest intention 



operating, and operating so harmoniously, between her 
companions; and it was in the mitigated midnight of 
these approximations that she had made out the 
promise of her dawn. 

It was a worked-out scheme for their not wounding 
her, for their behaving to her quite nobly; to which 
each had, in some winning way, induced the other to 
contribute, and which therefore, so far as that went, 
proved that she had become with them a subject of in 
timate study. Quickly, quickly, on a certain alarm 
taken, eagerly and anxiously, before they should, with 
out knowing it, wound her, they had signalled from 
house to house their clever idea, the idea by which, for 
all these days, her own idea had been profiting. They 
had built her in with their purpose which was why, 
above her, a vault seemed more heavily to arch; so 
that she sat there, in the solid chamber of her help 
lessness, as in a bath of benevolence artfully prepared 
for her, over the brim of which she could but just 
manage to see by stretching her neck. Baths of be 
nevolence were very well jut, at least, unless one were 
a patient of some sort, a nervous eccentric or a lost 
child, one was usually not so immersed save by one's 
request. It wasn't in the least what she had re 
quested. She had flapped her little wings as a sym 
bol of desired flight, not merely as a plea for a more 
gilded cage and an extra allowance of lumps of sugar. 
Above all she hadn't complained, not by the quaver 
of a syllable so what wound in particular had she 
shown her fear of receiving? What wound had she 
received as to which she had exchanged the least 



word with them? If she had ever whined or moped 
they might have had some reason; but she would be 
hanged she conversed with herself in strong lan 
guage if she had been, from beginning to end, 
anything but pliable and mild. It all came back, in 
consequence, to some required process of their own, 
a process operating, quite positively, as a precaution 
and a policy. They had got her into the bath and, 
for consistency with themselves which was with 
each other must keep her there. In that condition 
she wouldn't interfere with the policy, which was 
established, which was arranged. Her thought, over 
this, arrived at a great intensity had indeed its 
pauses and timidities, but always to take afterwards a 
further and lighter spring. The ground was well-nigh 
covered by the time she had made out her husband and 
his colleague as directly interested in preventing her 
freedom of movement. Policy or no policy, it was 
they themselves who were arranged. She must be kept 
in position so as not to cfoarrange them. It fitted im 
mensely together, the whole thing, as soon as she could 
give them a motive; for, strangely as it had by this 
time begun to appear to herself, she had hitherto not 
imagined them sustained by an ideal distinguishably 
different from her own. Of course they were arranged 
all four arranged; but what had the basis of their 
life been, precisely, but that they were arranged to 
gether? Ah! Amerigo and Charlotte were arranged 
together, but she to confine the matter only to her 
self was arranged apart. It rushed over her, the full 
sense of all this, with quite another rush from that of 



the breaking wave of ten days before ; and as her father 
himself seemed not to meet the vaguely-clutching hand 
with which, during the first shock of complete percep 
tion, she tried to steady herself, she felt very much 



THERE had been, from far back that is from the 
Christmas time on a plan that the parent and the 
child should "do something lovely" together, and they, 
had recurred to it on occasion, nursed it and brought it 
up theoretically, though without as yet quite allowing 
it to put its feet to the ground. The most it had done 
was to try a few steps on the drawing-room carpet, with 
much attendance, on either side, much holding up and 
guarding, much anticipation, in fine, of awkwardness 
or accident. Their companions, by the same token, 
had constantly assisted at the performance, following 
the experiment with sympathy and gaiety, and never 
so full of applause, Maggie now made out for herself, 
as when the infant project had kicked its little legs 
most wildly kicked them, for all the world, across the 
Channel and half the Continent, kicked them over the 
Pyrenees and innocently crowed out some rich Spanish 
name. She asked herself at present if it had been a 
"real" belief that they were but wanting, for some 
such adventure, to snatch their moment ; whether either 
had at any instant seen it as workable, save in the 
form of a toy to dangle before the other, that they 
should take flight, without wife or husband, for one 
more look, "before they died," at the Madrid pictures, 



as well as for a drop of further weak delay in re 
spect to three or four possible prizes, privately 
offered, rarities of the first water, responsibly re 
ported on and profusely photographed, still patiently 
awaiting their noiseless arrival in retreats to which 
the clue had not otherwise been given away. The 
vision dallied with during the duskier days in 
Eaton Square had stretched to the span of three or 
four weeks of springtime for the total adventure, 
three or four weeks in the very spirit, after all, of 
their regular life, as their regular life had been 
persisting; full of shared mornings, afternoons, even 
ings, walks, drives, "looks-in," at old places, on vague 
chances; full also, in especial, of that purchased social 
ease, the sense of the comfort and credit of their house, 
which had essentially the perfection of something paid 
for, but which "came," on the whole, so cheap that 
it might have been felt as costing as costing the 
parent and child nothing. It was for Maggie to 
wonder, at present, if she had been sincere about their 
going, to ask herself whether she would have stuck 
to their plan even if nothing had happened. 

Her view of the impossibility of sticking to it now 
may give us the measure of her sense that everything 
had happened. A difference had been made in her 
relation to each of her companions, and what it com 
pelled her to say to herself was that to behave as 
she might have behaved before would be to act, for 
Amerigo and Charlotte, with the highest hypocrisy. 
She saw in these days that a journey abroad with her 
father would, more than anything else, have amounted, 

VOL. ii. 4 49 


on his part and her own, to a last expression of an 
ecstasy of confidence, and that the charm of the idea, 
in fact, had been in some such sublimity. Day after 
day she put off the moment of "speaking," as she in 
wardly and very comprehensively, called it speaking, 
that is, to her father; and all the more that she was 
ridden by a strange suspense as to his himself breaking 
silence. She gave him time, gave him, during several 
days, that morning, that noon, that night, and the next 
and the next and the next; even made up her mind 
that if he stood off longer it would be proof conclusive 
that he too wasn't at peace. They would then have 
been, all successfully, throwing dust in each other's 
eyes ; and it would be at last as if they must turn away 
their faces, since the silver mist that protected them 
had begun to grow sensibly thin. Finally, at the end 
of April, she decided that if he should say nothing for 
another period of twenty-four hours she must take it 
as showing that they were, in her private phraseology, 
lost; so little possible sincerity could there be in pre 
tending to care for a journey to Spain at the approach 
of a summer that already promised to be hot. Such 
a proposal, on his lips, such an extravagance of op 
timism, would be his way of being consistent for 
that he didn't really want to move, or to move further, 
at the worst, than back to Fawns again, could only 
signify that he wasn't, at heart, contented. What he 
wanted, at any rate, and what he didn't want were, 
in the event, put to the proof for Maggie just in time 
to give her a fresh wind. She had been dining, with 
her husband, in Eaton Square, on the occasion of hos- 



pitality offered by Mr. and Mrs. Verver to Lord and 
Lady Castledean. The propriety of some demonstra 
tion of this sort had been for many days before our 
group, the question reduced to the mere issue of which 
of the two houses should first take the field. The issue 
had been easily settled in the manner of every issue 
referred in any degree to Amerigo and Charlotte : the 
initiative obviously belonged to Mrs. Verver, who had 
gone to Matcham while Maggie had stayed away, 
and the evening in Eaton Square might have passed 
for a demonstration all the more personal that the 
dinner had been planned on "intimate" lines. Six 
other guests only, in addition to the host and the 
hostess of Matcham, made up the company, and each 
of these persons had for Maggie the interest of an 
attested connection with the Easter revels at that vis 
ionary house. Their common memory of an occasion 
that had clearly left behind it an ineffaceable charm 
this air of beatific reference, less subdued in the 
others than in Amerigo and Charlotte, lent them, 
together, an inscrutable comradeship against which 
the young woman's imagination broke in a small 
vain wave. 

It wasn't that she wished she had been of the re 
membered party and possessed herself of its secrets; 
for she didn't care about its secrets she could concern 
herself at present, absolutely, with no secret but her 
own. What occurred was simply that she became 
aware, at a stroke, of the quantity of further nourish 
ment required by her own, and of the amount of it 
she might somehow extract from these people ; where- 


by she rose, of a sudden, to the desire to possess and 
use them, even to the extent of braving, of fairly defy 
ing, of directly exploiting, of possibly quite enjoying, 
under cover of an evil duplicity, the felt element of 
curiosity with which they regarded her. Once she 
was conscious of the flitting wing of this last im 
pression the perception, irresistible, that she was 
something for their queer experience, just as they were 
something for hers there was no limit to her con 
ceived design of not letting them escape. She went 
and went, again, to-night, after her start was taken; 
went, positively, as she had felt herself going, three 
weeks before, on the morning w 7 hen the vision of her 
father and his wife awaiting her together in the break 
fast-room had been so determinant. In this other scene 
it was Lady Castledean who was determinant, who 
kindled the light, or at all events the heat, and who 
acted on the nerves ; Lady Castledean whom she knew 
she, so oddly, didn't like, in spite of reasons upon 
reasons, the biggest diamonds on the yellowest hair, 
the longest lashes on the prettiest, falsest eyes, the 
oldest lace on the most violet velvet, the rightest man 
ner on the wrongest assumption. Her ladyship's 
assumption was that she kept, at every moment of her 
life, every advantage it made her beautifully soft, 
very nearly generous; so she didn't distinguish the 
little protuberant eyes of smaller social insects, often 
endowed with such a range, from the other decorative 
spots on their bodies and wings. Maggie had liked, in 
London, and in the world at large, so many more 
people than she had thought it right to fear, right even 



to so much as judge, that it positively quickened her 
fever to have to recognise, in this case, such a lapse of 
all the sequences. It was only that a charming clever 
woman wondered about her that is wondered about 
her as Amerigo's wife, and wondered, moreover, with 
the intention of kindness and the spontaneity, almost, 
of surprise. 

The point of view that one was what she read in 
their free contemplation, in that of the whole eight; 
there was something in Amerigo to be explained, and 
she was passed about, all tenderly and expertly, like 
a dressed doll held, in the right manner, by its firmly- 
stuffed middle, for the account she could give. She 
might have been made to give it by pressure of her 
stomach; she might have been expected to articulate, 
with a rare imitation of nature, "Oh yes, I'm here all 
the while; I'm also in my way a solid little fact and I 
cost originally a great deal of money : cost, that is, 
my father, for my outfit, and let in my husband for 
an amount of pains toward my training that money 
would scarce represent." Well, she would meet them 
in some such way, and she translated her idea into ac 
tion, after dinner, before they dispersed, by engaging 
them all, unconventionally, almost violently, to dine 
with her in Portland Place, just as they were, if they 
didn't mind the same party, which was the party she 
wanted. Oh she was going, she was going she could 
feel it afresh ; it was a good deal as if she had sneezed 
ten times or had suddenly burst into a comic song. 
There were breaks in the connection, as there would be 
hitches in the process ; she didn't wholly see, yet, what 



they would do for her, nor quite how, herself, she 
should handle them ; but she was dancing up and down, 
beneath her propriety, with the thought that she had 
at least begun something she so fairly liked to feel 
that she was a point for convergence of wonder. It 
wasn't after all, either, that their wonder so much 
signified that of the cornered six, whom it glimmered 
before her that she might still live to drive about like 
a flock of sheep : the intensity of her consciousness, its 
sharpest savour, was in the theory of her having di 
verted, having, as they said, captured, the attention of 
Amerigo and Charlotte, at neither of whom, all the 
while, did she so much as once look. She had pitched 
them in with the six, for that matter, so far as they 
themselves were concerned; they had dropped, for the 
succession of minutes, out of contact with their func 
tion had, in short, startled and impressed, abandoned 
their post. "They're paralysed, they're paralysed!" 
she commented, deep within; so much it helped her 
own apprehension to hang together that they should 
suddenly lose their bearings. 

Her grasp of appearances was thus out of propor 
tion to her view of causes ; but it came to her then and 
there that if she could only get the facts of appearance 
straight, only jam them down into their place, the 
reasons lurking behind them, kept uncertain, for the 
eyes, by their wavering and shifting, wouldn't perhaps 
be able to help showing. It wasn't of course that the 
Prince and Mrs. Verver marvelled to see her civil 
to their friends; it was rather, precisely, that civil was 
just what she wasn't: she had so departed from any 



such custom of delicate approach approach by the 
permitted note, the suggested "if," the accepted vague 
ness as would enable the people in question to put 
her off if they wished. And the profit of her plan, the 
effect of the violence she was willing to let it go for, 
was exactly in their being the people in question, 
people she had seemed to be rather shy of before 
and for whom she suddenly opened her mouth so 
wide. Later on, we may add, with the ground soon 
covered by her agitated but resolute step, it was to 
cease to matter what people they were or weren't ; but 
meanwhile the particular sense of them that she had 
taken home to-night had done her the service of 
seeming to break the ice where that formation was 
thickest. Still more unexpectedly, the service might 
have been the same for her father; inasmuch as, im 
mediately, when everyone had gone, he did exactly 
what she had been waiting for and despairing of 
and did it, as he did everything, with a simplicity that 
left any purpose of sounding him deeper, of draw 
ing him out further, of going, in his own frequent 
phrase, "behind" what he said, nothing whatever to 
do. He brought it out straight, made it bravely and 
beautifully irrelevant, save for the plea of what they 
should lose by breaking the charm : "I guess we won't 
go down there after all, will we, Mag? just when it's 
getting so pleasant here." That was all, with nothing 
to lead up to it; but it was done for her at a stroke, 
and done, not less, more rather, for Amerigo and Char 
lotte, on whom the immediate effect, as she secretly, 
as she almost breathlessly measured it, was prodigious. 



Everything now so fitted for her to everything else 
that she could feel the effect as prodigious even while 
sticking to her policy of giving the pair no look. 
There were thus some five wonderful minutes during 
which they loomed, to her sightless eyes, on either 
side of her, larger than they had ever loomed before, 
larger than life, larger than thought, larger than any 
danger or any safety. There was thus a space of 
time, in fine, fairly vertiginous for her, during which 
she took no more account of them than if they were 
not in the room. 

She had never, never treated them in any such way 
not even just now, when she had plied her art upon 
the Matcham band ; her present manner was an intenser 
exclusion, and the air was charged with their silence 
while she talked with her other companion as if she 
had nothing but him to consider. He had given her 
the note amazingly, by his allusion to the pleasant 
ness that of such an occasion as his successful dinner 
which might figure as their bribe for renouncing; 
so that it was all as if they were speaking selfishly, 
counting on a repetition of just such extensions of 
experience. Maggie achieved accordingly an act of 
unprecedented energy, threw herself into her father's 
presence as by the absolute consistency with which 
she held his eyes; saying to herself, at the same time 
that she smiled and talked and inaugurated her system, 
"What does he mean by it? That's the question 
what does he mean?" but studying again all the signs 
in him that recent anxiety had made familiar and count 
ing the stricken minutes on the part of the others. It 



was in their silence that the others loomed, as she felt ; 
she had had no measure, she afterwards knew, of this 
duration, but it drew out and out really to what 
would have been called in simpler conditions awk 
wardness as if she herself were stretching the cord. 
Ten minutes later, however, in the homeward car 
riage, to which her husband, cutting delay short, 
had proceeded at the first announcement, ten min 
utes later she was to stretch it almost to breaking. 
The Prince had permitted her to linger much 
less, before his move to the door, than they usually 
lingered at the gossiping close of such evenings; 
which she, all responsive, took for a sign of his im 
patience to modify for her the odd effect of his not 
having, and of Charlotte's not having, instantly 
acclaimed the issue of the question debated, or more 
exactly, settled, before them. He had had time 
to become aware of this possible impression in her, 
and his virtually urging her into the carriage was 
connected with his feeling that he must take action on 
the new ground. A certain ambiguity in her would 
absolutely have tormented him; but he had already 
found something to soothe and correct as to which 
she had, on her side, a shrewd notion of what it would 
be. She was herself, for that matter, prepared, and 
she was, of a truth, as she took her seat in the 
brougham, amazed at her preparation. It allowed her 
scarce an interval ; she brought it straight out. 

"I was certain that was what father would say if 
I should leave him alone. I have been leaving him 
alone, and you see the effect. He hates now to move 



he likes too much to be with us. But if you see the 
effect" she felt herself magnificently keeping it up 
"perhaps you don't see the cause. The cause, my 
dear, is too lovely." 

Her husband, on taking his place beside her, had, 
during a minute or two, for her watching sense, 
neither said nor done anything; he had been, for that 
sense, as if thinking, waiting, deciding: yet it was 
still before he spoke that he, as she felt it to be, defi 
nitely acted. He put his arm round her and drew her 
close indulged in the demonstration, the long, firm 
embrace by his single arm, the infinite pressure of her 
whole person to his own, that such opportunities had 
so often suggested and prescribed. Held, accordingly, 
and, as she could but too intimately feel, exquisitely 
solicited, she had said the thing she was intending and 
desiring to say, and as to which she felt, even more 
than she felt anything else, that whatever he might 
do she mustn't be irresponsible. Yes, she was in his 
exerted grasp, and she knew what that was; but she 
was at the same time in the grasp of her conceived 
responsibility, and the extraordinary thing was that, 
of the two intensities, the second was presently to be 
come the sharper. He took his time for it meanwhile, 
but he met her speech after a fashion. "The cause of 
your father's deciding not to go?" 

"Yes, and of my having wanted to let it act for 
him quietly I mean without my insistence." She had, 
in her compressed state, another pause, and it made 
her feel as if she were immensely resisting. Strange 
enough was this sense for her, and altogether new, the 



sense of possessing, by miraculous help, some ad 
vantage that, absolutely then and there, in the car 
riage, as they rolled, she might either give up or keep. 
Strange, inexpressibly strange so distinctly she saw 
that if she did give it up she should somehow give up 
everything for ever. And what her husband's grasp 
really meant, as her very bones registered, was that 
she should give it up : it was exactly for this that he 
had resorted to unfailing magic. He knew how to 
resort to it he could be, on occasion, as she had lately 
more than ever learned, so munificent a lover: all of 
which was, precisely, a part of the character she had 
never ceased to regard in him as princely, a part of his 
large and beautiful ease, his genius for charm, for in 
tercourse, for expression, for life. She should have 
but to lay her head back on his shoulder with a cer 
tain movement to make it definite for him that she 
didn't resist. To this, as they went, every throb of 
her consciousness prompted her every throb, that is, 
but one, the throb of her deeper need to know where 
she "really" was. By the time she had uttered 
the rest of her idea, therefore, she was still keep 
ing her head and intending to keep it; though she 
was also staring out of the carriage- window with 
eyes into which the tears of suffered pain had risen, 
indistinguishable, perhaps, happily, in the dusk. 
She was making an effort that horribly hurt her, 
and, as she couldn't cry out, her eyes swam in 
her silence. With them, all the same, through the 
square opening beside her, through the grey pan 
orama of the London night, she achieved the feat 



of not losing sight of what she wanted; and her 
lips helped and protected her by being able to be gay. 
"It's not to leave you, my dear for that he'll give up 
anything; just as he would go off anywhere, I think, 
you know, if you would go with him. I mean you and 
he alone," Maggie pursued with her gaze out of her 

For which Amerigo's answer again took him a mo 
ment. "Ah, the dear old boy! You would like me to 
propose him something ?" 

"Well, if you think you could bear it." 

"And leave," the Prince asked, "you and Charlotte 

"Why not?" Maggie had also to wait a minute, 
but when she spoke it came clear. "Why shouldn't 
Charlotte be just one of my reasons my not liking 
to leave her ? She has always been so good, so perfect, 
to me but never so wonderfully as just now. We 
have somehow been more together thinking, for the 
time, almost only of each other; it has been quite as 
in old days." And she proceeded consummately, for 
she felt it as consummate : "It's as if we had been miss 
ing each other, had got a little apart though going on 
so side by side. But the good moments, if one only 
waits for them," she hastened to add, "come round of 
themselves. Moreover you've seen for yourself, since 
you've made it up so to father; feeling, for yourself, 
in your beautiful way, every difference, every air that 
blows; not having to be told or pushed, only being 
perfect to live with, through your habit of kindness 
and your exquisite instincts. But of course you've 



seen, all the while, that both he and I have deeply felt 
how you've managed ; managed that he hasn't been too 
much alone and that I, on my side, haven't appeared 
to what you might call neglect him. This is al 
ways," she continued, "what I can never bless you 
enough for ; of all the good things you've done for me 
you've never done anything better." She went on ex 
plaining as for the pleasure of explaining even though 
knowing he must recognise, as a part of his easy way 
too, her description of his large liberality. "Your tak 
ing the child down yourself, those days, and your 
coming, each time, to bring him away nothing in the 
world, nothing you could have invented, would have 
kept father more under the charm. Besides, you know 
how you've always suited him, and how you've always 
so beautifully let it seem to him that he suits you. 
Only it has been, these last weeks, as if you wished 
just in order to please him to remind him of it 
afresh. So there it is," she wound up; "it's your do 
ing. You've produced your effect that of his wanting 
not to be, even for a month or two, where you're not. 
He doesn't want to bother or bore you that, I think, 
you know, he never has done; and if you'll only give 
me time I'll come round again to making it my care, 
as always, that he shan't. But he can't bear you out 
of his sight." 

She had kept it up and up, filling it out, crowding 
it in; and all, really, without difficulty, for it was, 
every word of it, thanks to a long evolution of feeling, 
what she had been primed to the brim with. She made 
the picture, forced it upon him, hung it before him; 



remembering, happily, how he had gone so far, one 
day, supported by the Principino, as to propose the 
Zoo in Eaton Square, to carry with him there, on the 
spot, under this pleasant inspiration, both his elder and 
his younger companion, with the latter of whom he had 
taken the tone that they were introducing Granddaddy, 
Granddaddy nervous and rather funking it, to lions and 
tigers more or less at large. Touch by touch she thus 
dropped into her husband's silence the truth about his 
good nature and his good manners; and it was this 
demonstration of his virtue, precisely, that added to the 
strangeness, even for herself, of her failing as yet to 
yield to him. It would be a question but of the most 
trivial act of surrender, the vibration of a nerve, the 
mere movement of a muscle; but the act grew impor 
tant between them just through her doing perceptibly 
nothing, nothing but talk in the very tone that would 
naturally have swept her into tenderness. She knew 
more and more every lapsing minute taught her 
how he might by a single Tightness make her cease to 
watch him; that Tightness, a million miles removed 
from the queer actual, falling so short, which would 
consist of his breaking out to her diviningly, indul 
gently, with the last happy inconsequence. "Come 
away with me, somewhere, you and then we needn't 
think, we needn't even talk, of anything, of anyone 
else:" five words like that would answer her, would 
break her utterly down. But they were the only ones 
that would so serve. She waited for them, and there 
was a supreme instant when, by the testimony of all 
the rest of him, she seemed to feel them in his heart 



and on his lips; only they didn't sound, and as that 
made her wait again so it made her more intensely 
watch. This in turn showed her that he too watched 
and waited, and how much he had expected something 
that he now felt wouldn't come. Yes, it wouldn't 
come if he didn't answer her, if he but said the wrong 
things instead of the right. If he could say the right 
everything would come it hung by a hair that every 
thing might crystallise for their recovered happiness 
at his touch. This possibility glowed at her, however, 
for fifty seconds, only then to turn cold, and as it fell 
away from her she felt the chill of reality and knew 
again, all but pressed to his heart and with his breath 
upon her cheek, the slim rigour of her attitude, 
a rigour beyond that of her natural being. They 
had silences, at last, that were almost crudities of 
mutual resistance silences that persisted through 
his felt effort to treat her recurrence to the part 
he had lately played, to interpret all the sweetness 
of her so talking to him, as a manner of making 
love to him. Ah, it was no such manner, heaven 
knew, for Maggie; she could make love, if this had 
been in question, better than that! On top of which 
it came to her presently to say, keeping in with what 
she had already spoken: "Except of course that, for 
the question of going off somewhere, he'd go readily, 
quite delightedly, with you. I verily believe he'd like 
to have you for a while to himself." 

"Do you mean he thinks of proposing it?" the 
Prince after a moment sounded. 

"Oh no he doesn't ask, as you must so often have 



seen. But I believe he'd go 'like a shot/ as you say, 
if you were to suggest it." 

It had the air, she knew, of a kind of condition 
made, and she had asked herself while she spoke if it 
wouldn't cause his arm to let her go. The fact that 
it didn't suggested to her that she had made him, of a 
sudden, still more intensely think, think with such 
concentration that he could do but one thing at once. 
And it was precisely as if the concentration had the 
next moment been proved in him. He took a turn 
inconsistent with the superficial impression a jump 
that made light of their approach to gravity and 
represented for her the need in him to gain time. 
That she made out, was his drawback that the warn 
ing from her had come to him, and had come to 
Charlotte, after all, too suddenly. That they were 
in face of it rearranging, that they had to rear 
range, was all before her again; yet to do as they 
would like they must enjoy a snatch, longer or short 
er, of recovered independence. Amerigo, for the in 
stant, was but doing as he didn't like, and it was 
as if she were watching his effort without disguise. 
"What's your father's idea, this year, then, about 
Fawns? Will he go at Whitsuntide, and will he then 
stay on?" 

Maggie went through the form of thought. "He will 
really do, I imagine, as he has, in so many ways, so 
often done before ; do whatever may seem most agree 
able to yourself. And there's of course always Char 
lotte to be considered. Only their going early to 



Fawns, if they do go," she said, "needn't in the least 
entail your and my going." 

"Ah," Amerigo echoed, "it needn't in the least 
entail your and my going?" 

"We can do as we like. What they may do needn't 
trouble us, since they're by good fortune perfectly 
happy together." 

"Oh," the Prince returned, "your father's never so 
happy as with you near him to enjoy his being so." 

"Well, I may enjoy it," said Maggie, "but I'm not 
the cause of it." 

"You're the cause," her husband declared, "of the 
greater part of everything that's good among us." 
But she received this tribute in silence, and the next 
moment he pursued : "If Mrs. Verver has arrears of 
time with you to make up, as you say, she'll scarcely 
do it or you scarcely will by our cutting, your and 
my cutting, too loose." 

"I see what you mean," Maggie mused. 

He let her for a little give her attention to it; after 
which, "Shall I just quite, of a sudden," he asked, 
"propose him a journey?" 

Maggie hesitated, but she brought forth the fruit of 
reflection. "It would have the merit that Charlotte 
then would be with me with me, I mean, so much 
more. Also that I shouldn't, by choosing such a time 
for going away, seem unconscious and ungrateful, 
seem not to respond, seem in fact rather to wish to 
shake her off. I should respond, on the contrary, very 
markedly by being here alone with her for a month." 

VOL. II. 5 65 


"And would you like to be here alone with her for 
a month?" 

"I could do with it beautifully. Or we might even," 
she said quite gaily, "go together down to Fawns." 

"You could be so very content without me?" the 
Prince presently inquired. 

"Yes, my own dear if you could be content for a 
while with father. That would keep me up. I might, 
for the time," she went on, "go to stay there with 
Charlotte; or, better still, she might come to Portland 

"Oho !" said the Prince with cheerful vagueness. 

"I should feel, you see," she continued, "that the two 
of us were showing the same sort of kindness." 

Amerigo thought. "The two of us? Charlotte 
and I?" 

Maggie again hesitated. "You and I, darling." 

"I see, I see" he promptly took it in. "And what 
reason shall I give give, I mean, your father?" 

"For asking him to go off? Why, the very simplest 
if you conscientiously can. The desire," said Mag 
gie, "to be agreeable to him. Just that only." 

Something in this reply made her husband again 
reflect. " 'Conscientiously ?' Why shouldn't I con 
scientiously ? It wouldn't, by your own contention," 
he developed, "represent any surprise for him. I must 
strike him sufficiently as, at the worst, the last person 
in the world to wish to do anything to hurt him." 

Ah, there it was again, for Maggie the note al 
ready sounded, the note of the felt need of not working 
harm! Why this precautionary view, she asked her- 



self afresh, when her father had complained, at the 
very least, as little as herself? With their stillness 
together so perfect, what had suggested so, around 
them, the attitude of sparing them? Her inner vision 
fixed it once more, this attitude, saw it, in the others, 
as vivid and concrete, extended it straight from her 
companion to Charlotte. Before she was well aware, 
accordingly, she had echoed in this intensity of thought 
Amerigo's last words. "You're the last person in the 
world to wish to do anything to hurt him." 

She heard herself, heard her tone, after she had 
spoken, and heard it the more that, for a minute after, 
she felt her husband's eyes on her face, very close, too 
close for her to see him. He was looking at her be 
cause he was struck, and looking hard though his 
answer, when it came, was straight enough. "Why, 
isn't that just what we have been talking about that 
I've affected you as fairly studying his comfort and his 
pleasure? He might show his sense of it," the Prince 
went on, "by proposing to me an excursion." 

"And you would go with him?" Maggie immedi 
ately asked. 

He hung fire but an instant. "Per Dio!" 

She also had her pause, but she broke it since 
gaiety was in the air with an intense smile. "You 
can say that safely, because the proposal's one that, of 
his own motion, he won't make." 

She couldn't have narrated afterwards and in fact 
was at a loss to tell herself by what transition, what 
rather marked abruptness of change in their personal 
relation, their drive came to its end with a kind of 



interval established, almost confessed to, between them. 
She felt it in the tone with which he repeated, after 
her, "'Safely' ?" 

"Safely as regards being thrown with him perhaps 
after all, in such a case, too long. He's a person to 
think you might easily feel yourself to be. So it 
won't," Maggie said, "come from father. He's too 

Their eyes continued to meet on it, from corner to 
corner of the brougham. "Oh your modesty, between 

you !" But he still smiled for it. "So that unless 

I insist ?" 

"We shall simply go on as we are." 

"Well, we're going on beautifully," he answered 
though by no means with the effect it would have had 
if their mute transaction, that of attempted capture 
and achieved escape, had not taken place. As Maggie 
said nothing, none the less, to gainsay his remark, it 
was open to him to find himself the next moment con 
scious of still another idea. "I wonder if it would 
do. I mean for me to break in." 

"To break in' ?" 

"Between your father and his wife. But there 
would be a way," he said "we can make Charlotte 
ask him." And then as Maggie herself now wondered, 
echoing it again : "We can suggest to her to suggest 
to him that he shall let me take him off." 

"Oh !" said Maggie. 

"Then if he asks her why I so suddenly break out 
she'll be able to tell him the reason." 

They were stopping, and the footman, who had 



alighted, had rung at the house-door. "That you think 
it would be so charming?" 

"That I think it would be so charming. That we've 
persuaded her will be convincing." 

"I see," Maggie went on while the footman came 
back to let them out. "I see," she said again; though 
she felt a little disconcerted. What she really saw, 
of a sudden, was that her stepmother might report 
her as above all concerned for the proposal, and this 
brought her back her need that her father shouldn't 
think her concerned in any degree for anything. She 
alighted the next instant with a slight sense of defeat ; 
her husband, to let her out, had passed before her, 
and, a little in advance, he awaited her on the edge of 
the low terrace, a step high, that preceded their open 
entrance, on either side of which one of their servants 
stood. The sense of a life tremendously ordered and 
fixed rose before her, and there was something in 
Amerigo's very face, while his eyes again met her own 
through the dusky lamplight, that was like a conscious 
reminder of it. He had answered her, just before, dis 
tinctly, and it appeared to leave her nothing to say. It 
was almost as if, having planned for the last word, 
she saw him himself enjoying it. It was almost as 
if in the strangest way in the world he were pay 
ing her back, by the production of a small pang, that 
of a new uneasiness, for the way she had slipped from 
him during their drive. 



MAGGIE'S new uneasiness might have had time to 
drop, inasmuch as she not only was conscious, during 
several days that followed, of no fresh indication for it 
to feed on, but was even struck, in quite another way, 
with an augmentation of the symptoms of that differ 
ence she had taken it into her head to work for. She 
recognised by the end of a week that if she had been 
in a manner caught up her father had been not less so 
with the effect of her husband's and his wife's closing 
in, together, round them, and of their all having sud 
denly begun, as a party of four, to lead a life gregari 
ous, and from that reason almost hilarious, so far as 
the easy sound of it went, as never before. It might 
have been an accident and a mere coincidence so at 
least she said to herself at first; but a dozen chances 
that furthered the whole appearance had risen to the 
surface, pleasant pretexts, oh certainly pleasant, as 
pleasant as Amerigo in particular could make them, 
for associated undertakings, quite for shared adven 
tures, for its always turning out, amusingly, that they 
wanted to do very much the same thing at the same 
time and in the same way. Funny all this was, to some 
extent, in the light of the fact that the father and 
daughter, for so long, had expressed so few positive 



desires; yet it would be sufficiently natural that if 
Amerigo and Charlotte had at last got a little tired of 
each other's company they should find their relief not 
so much in sinking to the rather low level of their com 
panions as in wishing to pull the latter into the train 
in which they so constantly moved. "We're in the 
train," Maggie mutely reflected after the dinner in 
Eaton Square with Lady Castledean ; "we've suddenly 
waked up in it and found ourselves rushing along, very 
much as if we had been put in during sleep shoved, 
like a pair of labelled boxes, into the van. And since 
I wanted to 'go' I'm certainly going," she might have 
added ; "I'm moving without trouble they're doing it 
all for us: it's wonderful how they understand and 
how perfectly it succeeds." For that was the thing 
she had most immediately to acknowledge: it seemed 
as easy for them to make a quartette as it had formerly 
so long appeared for them to make a pair of couples 
this latter being thus a discovery too absurdly belated. 
The only point at which, day after day, the success 
appeared at all qualified was represented, as might 
have been said, by her irresistible impulse to give her 
father a clutch when the train indulged in one of its 
occasional lurches. Then there was no denying it 
his eyes and her own met ; so that they were themselves 
doing active violence, as against the others, to that 
very spirit of union, or at least to that very achieve 
ment of change, which she had taken the field to 

The maximum of change was reached, no doubt, 
the day the Matcham party dined in Portland Place; 


the day, really perhaps, of Maggie's maximum of 
social glory, in the sense of its showing for her own 
occasion, her very own, with every one else extrava 
gantly rallying and falling in, absolutely conspiring to 
make her its heroine. It was as if her father himself, 
always with more initiative as a guest than as a host, 
had dabbled too in the conspiracy ; and the impression 
was not diminished by the presence of the Assinghams, 
likewise very much caught-up, now, after something 
of a lull, by the side-wind of all the rest of the motion, 
and giving our young woman, so far at least as Fanny 
was concerned, the sense of some special intention of 
encouragement and applause. Fanny, who had not 
been present at the other dinner, thanks to a preference 
entertained and expressed by Charlotte, made a splen 
did show at this one, in new orange-coloured velvet 
with multiplied turquoises, and with a confidence, 
furthermore, as different as possible, her hostess in 
ferred, from her too-marked betrayal of a belittled state 
at Matcham. Maggie was not indifferent to her own 
opportunity to redress this balance which seemed, for 
the hour, part of a general rectification ; she liked mak 
ing out for herself that on the high level of Portland 
Place, a spot exempt, on all sorts of grounds, from 
jealous jurisdictions, her friend could feel as "good" 
as any one, and could in fact at moments almost appear 
to take the lead in recognition and celebration, so far 
as the evening might conduce to intensify the lustre of 
the little Princess. Mrs. Assingham produced on her 
the impression of giving her constantly her cue for 
this; and it was in truth partly by her help, intelli- 



gently, quite gratefully accepted, that the little Prin 
cess, in Maggie, was drawn out and emphasised. She 
couldn't definitely have said how it happened, but she 
felt herself, for the first time in her career, living up 
to the public and popular notion of such a personage, 
as it pressed upon her from all round ; rather wonder 
ing, inwardly, too, while she did so, at that strange 
mixture in things through which the popular notion 
could be evidenced for her by such supposedly great 
ones of the earth as the Castledeans and their kind. 
Fanny Assingham might really have been there, at all 
events, like one of the assistants in the ring at the cir 
cus, to keep up the pace of the sleek revolving animal 
on whose back the lady in short spangled skirts should 
brilliantly caper and posture. That was all, doubtless : 
Maggie had forgotten, had neglected, had declined, to 
be the little Princess on anything like the scale open 
to her ; but now that the collective hand had been held 
out to her with such alacrity, so that she might skip 
up into the light, even, as seemed to her modest mind, 
with such a show of pink stocking and such an abbre 
viation of white petticoat, she could strike herself as 
perceiving, under arched eyebrows, where her mistake 
had been. She had invited for the later hours, after 
her dinner, a fresh contingent, the whole list of her ap 
parent London acquaintance which was again a thing 
in the manner of little princesses for whom the princely 
art was a matter of course. That was what she was 
learning to do, to fill out as a matter of course her 
appointed, her expected, her imposed character; and, 
though there were latent considerations that somewhat 



interfered with the lesson, she was having to-night an 
inordinate quantity of practice, none of it so successful 
as when, quite wittingly, she directed it at Lady Castle- 
dean, who was reduced by it at last to an unprecedented 
state of passivity. The perception of this high result 
caused Mrs. Assingham fairly to flush with respon 
sive joy; she glittered at her young friend, from mo 
ment to moment, quite feverishly; it was positively as 
if her young friend had, in some marvellous, sudden, 
supersubtle way, become a source of succour to herself, 
become beautifully, divinely retributive. The inten 
sity of the taste of these registered phenomena was in 
fact that somehow, by a process and through a con 
nexion not again to be traced, she so practised, at the 
same time, on Amerigo and Charlotte with only the 
drawback, her constant check and second-thought, that 
she concomitantly practised perhaps still more on her 

This last was a danger indeed that, for much of the 
ensuing time, had its hours of strange beguilement 
those at which her sense for precautions so suffered 
itself to lapse that she felt her communion with him 
more intimate than any other. It couldn't but pass 
between them that something singular was happening 
so much as this she again and again said to herself ; 
whereby the comfort of it was there, after all, to be 
noted, just as much as the possible peril, and she could 
think of the couple they formed together as groping, 
with sealed lips, but with mutual looks that had never 
been so tender, for some freedom, some fiction, some 
figured bravery, under which they might safely talk of 



it. The moment was to come and it finally came 
with an effect as penetrating as the sound that follows 
the pressure of an electric button when she read the 
least helpful of meanings into the agitation she had 
created. The merely specious description of their case 
would have been that, after being for a long time, as 
a family, delightfully, uninterruptedly happy, they had 
still had a new felicity to discover ; a felicity for which, 
blessedly, her father's appetite and her own, in particu 
lar, had been kept fresh and grateful. This livelier 
march of their intercourse as a whole was the thing 
that occasionally determined in him the clutching in 
stinct we have glanced at ; very much as if he had said 
to her, in default of her breaking silence first : "Every 
thing is remarkably pleasant, isn't it? but where, for 
it, after all, are we? up in a balloon and whirling 
through space, or down in the depths of the earth, in 
the glimmering passages of a gold-mine ?" The equi 
librium, the precious condition, lasted in spite of re 
arrangement ; there had been a fresh distribution of the 
different weights, but the balance persisted and tri 
umphed : all of which was just the reason why she was 
forbidden, face to face with the companion of her ad 
venture, the experiment of a test. If they balanced 
they balanced she had to take that; it deprived her 
of every pretext for arriving, by however covert a 
process, at what he thought. 

But she had her hours, thus, of feeling supremely 
linked to him by the rigour of their law, and when it 
came over her that, all the while, the wish, on his side, 
to spare her might be what most worked with him, this 



very fact of their seeming to have nothing "inward" 
really to talk about wrapped him up for her in a kind 
of sweetness that was wanting, as a consecration, even 
in her yearning for her husband. She was powerless, 
however, was only more utterly hushed, when the in 
terrupting flash came, when she would have been all 
ready to say to him, "Yes, this is by every appearance 
the best time we've had yet ; but don't you see, all the 
same, how they must be working together for it, and 
how my very success, my success in shifting our beau 
tiful harmony to a new basis, comes round to being 
their success, above all ; their cleverness, their amiabil 
ity, their power to hold out, their complete possession, 
in short, of our life?" For how could she say as much 
as that without saying a great deal more ? without say 
ing "They'll do everything in the world that suits us, 
save only one thing prescribe a line for us that will 
make them separate." How could she so much as 
imagine herself even faintly murmuring that without 
putting into his mouth the very words that would have 
made her quail? "Separate, my dear? Do you want 
them to separate? Then you want us to you and 
me ? For how can the one separation take place with 
out the other?" That was the question that, in spirit, 
she had heard him ask with its dread train, more 
over, of involved and connected inquiries. Their own 
separation, his and hers, was of course perfectly think 
able, but only on the basis of the sharpest of reasons. 
Well, the sharpest, the very sharpest, would be that 
they could no longer afford, as it were, he to let his 
wife, she to let her husband, "run" them in such com- 



pact formation. And say they accepted this account 
of their situation as a practical finality, acting upon it 
and proceeding to a division, would no sombre ghosts 
of the smothered past, on either side, show, across the 
widening strait, pale unappeased faces, or raise, in the 
very passage, deprecating, denouncing hands? 

Meanwhile, however such things might be, she was 
to have occasion to say to herself that there might be 
but a deeper treachery in recoveries and reassurances. 
She was to feel alone again, as she had felt at the issue 
of her high tension with her husband during their re 
turn from meeting the Castledeans in Eaton Square. 
The evening in question had left her with a larger 
alarm, but then a lull had come the alarm, after all, 
was yet to be confirmed. There came an hour, inevi 
tably, when she knew, with a chill, what she had feared 
and why; it had taken, this hour, a month to arrive, 
but to find it before her was thoroughly to recognise 
it, for it showed her sharply what Amerigo had meant 
in alluding to a particular use that they might make, 
for their reaffirmed harmony and prosperity, of Char 
lotte. The more she thought, at present, of the tone 
he had employed to express their enjoyment of this 
resource, the more it came back to her as the product 
of a conscious art of dealing with her. He had been 
conscious, at the moment, of many things conscious 
even, not a little, of desiring, and thereby of needing, 
to see what she would do in a given case. The given 
case would be that of her being to a certain extent, as 
she might fairly make it out, menaced horrible as it 
was to impute to him any intention represented by such 



a word. Why it was that to speak of making her step 
mother intervene, as they might call it, in a question 
that seemed, just then and there, quite peculiarly their 
own business why it was that a turn so familiar and 
so easy should, at the worst, strike her as charged with 
the spirit of a threat, was an oddity disconnected, for 
her, temporarily, from its grounds, the adventure of an 
imagination within her that possibly had lost its way. 
That, precisely, was doubtless why she had learned to 
wait, as the weeks passed by, with a fair, or rather 
indeed with an excessive, imitation of resumed seren 
ity. There had been no prompt sequel to the Prince's 
equivocal light, and that made for patience ; yet she was 
none the less to have to admit, after delay, that the 
bread he had cast on the waters had come home, and 
that she should thus be justified of her old apprehen 
sion. The consequence of this, in turn, was a renewed 
pang in presence of his remembered ingenuity. To 
be ingenious with her what didn't, what mightn't that 
mean, when she had so absolutely never, at any point 
of contact with him, put him, by as much as the value 
of a penny, to the expense of sparing, doubting, fear 
ing her, of having in any way whatever to reckon with 
her? The ingenuity had been in his simply speaking 
of their use of Charlotte as if it were common to them 
in an equal degree, and his triumph, on the occasion, 
had been just in the simplicity. She couldn't and he 
knew it say what was true : "Oh, you 'use' her, and 
I use her, if you will, yes ; but we use her ever so dif 
ferently and separately not at all in the same way or 
degree. There's nobody we really use together but 



ourselves, don't you see ? by which I mean that where 
our interests are the same I can so beautifully, so ex 
quisitely serve you for everything, and you can so 
beautifully, so exquisitely serve me. The only person 
either of us needs is the other of us ; so why, as a mat 
ter of course, in such a case as this, drag in Charlotte?" 
She couldn't so challenge him, because it would have 
been and there she was paralysed the note. It 
would have translated itself on the spot, for his ear, 
into jealousy; and, from reverberation to repercussion, 
would have reached her father's exactly in the form of 
a cry piercing the stillness of peaceful sleep. It had 
been for many days almost as difficult for her to catch 
a quiet twenty minutes with her father as it had for 
merly been easy; there had been in fact, of old the 
time, so strangely, seemed already far away an in 
evitability in her longer passages with him, a sort of 
domesticated beauty in the calculability, round about 
them, of everything. But at 'present Charlotte was 
almost always there when Amerigo brought her to 
Eaton Square, where Amerigo was constantly bringing 
her ; and Amerigo was almost always there when Char 
lotte brought her husband to Portland Place, where 
Charlotte was constantly bringing him. The fractions 
of occasions, the chance minutes that put them face to 
face had, as yet, of late, contrived to count but little, 
between them, either for the sense of opportunity or 
for that of exposure; inasmuch as the lifelong rhythm 
of their intercourse made against all cursory handling 
of deep things. They had never availed themselves of 
any given quarter-of-an-hour to gossip about funda- 



mentals ; they moved slowly through large still spaces ; 
they could be silent together, at any time, beautifully, 
with much more comfort than hurriedly expressive. 
It appeared indeed to have become true that their 
common appeal measured itself, for vividness, just by 
this economy of sound; they might have been talking 
"at" each other when they talked with their compan 
ions, but these latter, assuredly, were not in any directer 
way to gain light on the current phase of their rela 
tion. Such were some of the reasons for which Mag 
gie suspected fundamentals, as I have called them, to 
be rising, by a new movement, to the surface sus 
pected it one morning late in May, when her father pre 
sented himself in Portland Place alone. He had his 
pretext of that she was fully aware: the Principino, 
two days before, had shown signs, happily not per 
sistent, of a feverish cold and had notoriously been 
obliged to spend the interval at home. This was 
ground, ample ground, for punctual inquiry; but what 
it wasn't ground for, she quickly found herself reflect 
ing, was his having managed, in the interest of his 
visit, to dispense so unwontedly as their life had re 
cently come to be arranged with his wife's attend 
ance. It had so happened that she herself was, for the 
hour, exempt from her husband's, and it will at once 
be seen that the hour had a quality all its own when I 
note that, remembering how the Prince had looked in 
to say he was going out, the Princess whimsically won 
dered if their respective sposi mightn't frankly be 
meeting, whimsically hoped indeed they were tempo 
rarily so disposed of. Strange was her need, at mo- 



ments, to think of them as not attaching an excessive 
importance to their repudiation of the general practice 
that had rested only a few weeks before on such a con 
secrated Tightness. Repudiations, surely, were not in 
the air they had none of them come to that; for 
wasn't she at this minute testifying directly against 
them by her own behaviour? When she should con 
fess to fear of being alone with her father, to fear of 
what he might then ah, with such a slow, painful 
motion as she had a horror of ! say to her, then would 
be time enough for Amerigo and Charlotte to confess 
to not liking to appear to foregather. 

She had this morning a wonderful consciousness 
both of dreading a particular question from him and 
of being able to check, yes even to disconcert, mag 
nificently, by her apparent manner of receiving it, any 
restless imagination he might have about its impor 
tance. The day, bright and soft, had the breath of 
summer; it made them talk, to begin with, of Fawns, 
of the way Fawns invited Maggie aware, the while, 
that in thus regarding, with him, the sweetness of its 
invitation to one couple just as much as to another, 
her humbugging smile grew very nearly convulsive. 
That was it, and there was relief truly, of a sort, in 
taking it in : she was humbugging him already, by ab 
solute necessity, as she had never, never done in her 
life doing it up to the full height of what she had 
allowed for. The necessity, in the great dimly-shin 
ing room where, declining, for his reasons, to sit down, 
he moved about in Amerigo's very footsteps, the ne 
cessity affected her as pressing upon her with the very 

VOL. II. 6 8 1 


force of the charm itself; of the old pleasantness, 
between them, so candidly playing up there again; of 
the positive flatness of their tenderness, a surface all 
for familiar use, quite as if generalised from the long 
succession of tapestried sofas, sweetly faded, on which 
his theory of contentment had sat, through unmeas 
ured pauses, beside her own. She knew, from this in 
stant, knew in advance and as well as anything would 
ever teach her, that she must never intermit for a soli 
tary second her so highly undertaking to prove that 
there was nothing the matter with her. She saw, of 
a sudden, everything she might say or do in the light 
of that undertaking, established connections from it 
with any number of remote matters, struck herself, for 
instance, as acting all in its interest when she proposed 
their going out, in the exercise of their freedom and 
in homage to the season, for a turn in the Regent's 
Park. This resort was close at hand, at the top of 
Portland Place, and the Principino, beautifully better, 
had already proceeded there under high attendance : all 
of which considerations were defensive for Maggie, all 
of which became, to her mind, part of the business of 
cultivating continuity. 

Upstairs, while she left him to put on something to 
go out in, the thought of his waiting below for her, 
in possession of the empty house, brought with it, 
sharply if briefly, one of her abrupt arrests of consist 
ency, the brush of a vain imagination almost paralys 
ing her, often, for the minute, before her glass the 
vivid look, in other words, of the particular difference 
his marriage had made. The particular difference 



seemed at such instants the loss, more than anything 
else, of their old freedom, their never having had to 
think, where they were together concerned, of any one, 
of anything but each other. It hadn't been her mar 
riage that did it; that had never, for three seconds, 
suggested to either of them that they must act diplo 
matically, must reckon with another presence no, not 
even with her husband's. She groaned to herself, 
while the vain imagination lasted, "Why did he marry? 
ah, why did he?" and then it came up to her more than 
ever that nothing could have been more beautiful than 
the way in which, till Charlotte came so much more 
closely into their life, Amerigo hadn't interfered. 
What she had gone on owing him for this mounted up 
again, to her eyes, like a column of figures or call it 
even, if one would, a house of cards ; it was her father's 
wonderful act that had tipped the house down and 
made the sum wrong. With all of which, immediately 
after her question, her "Why did he, why did he?" 
rushed back, inevitably, the confounding, the over 
whelming wave of the knowledge of his reason. "He 
did it for me, he did it for me," she moaned, "he did 
it, exactly, that our freedom meaning, beloved man, 
simply and solely mine should be greater instead of 
less ; he did it, divinely, to liberate me so far as possible 
from caring what became of him." She found time 
upstairs, even in her haste, as she had repeatedly found 
time before, to let the wonderments involved in these 
recognitions flash at her with their customary effect of 
making her blink : the question in especial of whether 
she might find her solution in acting, herself, in the 



spirit of what he had done, in forcing her "care" really 
to grow as much less as he had tried to make it. Thus 
she felt the whole weight of their case drop afresh 
upon her shoulders, was confronted, unmistakably, 
with the prime source of her haunted state. It all 
came from her not having been able not to mind not 
to mind what became of him; not having been able, 
without anxiety, to let him go his way and take his 
risk and lead his life. She had made anxiety her 
stupid little idol; and absolutely now, while she stuck 
a long pin, a trifle fallaciously, into her hat she had, 
with an approach to irritation, told her maid, a new 
woman, whom she had lately found herself thinking of 
as abysmal, that she didn't want her she tried to 
focus the possibility of some understanding between 
them in consequence of which he should cut loose. 

Very near indeed it looked, any such possibility! 
that consciousness, too, had taken its turn by the time 
she was ready; all the vibration, all the emotion of 
this present passage being, precisely, in the very sweet 
ness of their lapse back into the conditions of the 
simpler time, into a queer resemblance between the 
aspect and the feeling of the moment and those of num 
berless other moments that were sufficiently far away. 
She had been quick in her preparation, in spite of the 
flow of the tide that sometimes took away her breath ; 
but a pause, once more, was still left for her to make, 
a pause, at the top of the stairs, before she came down 
to him, in the span of which she asked herself if it 
weren't thinkable, from the perfectly practical point of 
view, that she should simply sacrifice him. She didn't 



go into the detail of what sacrificing him would mean 
she didn't need to ; so distinct was it, in one of her 
restless lights, that there he was awaiting her, that she 
should find him walking up and down the drawing- 
room in the warm, fragrant air to which the open win 
dows and the abundant flowers contributed ; slowly and 
vaguely moving there and looking very slight and 
young and, superficially, manageable, almost as much 
like her child, putting it a little freely, as like her 
parent; with the appearance about him, above all, of 
having perhaps arrived just on purpose to say it to 
her, himself, in so many words : "Sacrifice me, my own 
love; do sacrifice me, do sacrifice me!" Should she 
want to, should she insist on it, she might verily hear 
him bleating it at her, all conscious and all accommo 
dating, like some precious, spotless, exceptionally in 
telligent lamb. The positive effect of the intensity of 
this figure, however, was to make her shake it away in 
her resumed descent ;and after she had rejoined him, 
after she had picked him up, she was to know the full 
pang of the thought that her impossibility was made, 
absolutely, by his consciousness, by the lucidity of his 
intention : this she felt while she smiled there for him, 
again, all hypocritically ; while she drew on fair, fresh 
gloves; while she interrupted the process first to give 
his necktie a slightly smarter twist and then to make 
up to him for her hidden madness by rubbing her nose 
into his cheek according to the tradition of their frank 
est levity. From the instant she should be able to con 
vict him of intending, every issue would be closed and 
her hypocrisy would have to redouble. The only way 



to sacrifice him would be to do so without his dream 
ing what it might be for. She kissed him, she ar 
ranged his cravat, she dropped remarks, she guided him 
out, she held his arm, not to be led, but to lead him, 
and taking it to her by much the same intimate pres 
sure she had always used, when a little girl, to mark 
the inseparability of her doll she did all these things 
so that he should sufficiently fail to dream of what 
they might be for. 



THERE was nothing to show that her effort in any 
degree fell short till they got well into the Park and 
he struck her as giving, unexpectedly, the go-by to 
any serious search for the Principino. The way they 
sat down awhile in the sun was a sign of that; his 
dropping with her into the first pair of sequestered 
chairs they came across and waiting a little, after they 
were placed, as if now at last she might bring out, as 
between them, something more specific. It made her 
but feel the more sharply how the specific, in almost 
any direction, was utterly forbidden her how the use 
of it would be, for all the world, like undoing the leash 
of a dog eager to follow up a scent. It would come 
out, the specific, where the dog would come out ; would 
run to earth, somehow, the truth for she was believ 
ing herself in relation to the truth! at which she 
mustn't so much as indirectly point. Such, at any rate, 
was the fashion in which her passionate prudence 
played over possibilities of danger, reading symptoms 
and betrayals into everything she looked at, and yet 
having to make it evident, while she recognised them, 
that she didn't wince. There were moments between 
them, in their chairs, when he might have been watch 
ing her guard herself and trying to think of something 
new that would trip her up. There were pauses during 



which, with her affection as sweet and still as the sun 
shine, she might yet, as at some hard game, over a 
table, for money, have been defying him to fasten upon 
her the least little complication of consciousness. She 
was positively proud, afterwards, of the great style in 
which she had kept this up ; later on, at the hour's end, 
when they had retraced their steps to find Amerigo 
and Charlotte awaiting them at the house, she was able 
to say to herself that, truly, she had put her plan 
through; even though once more setting herself the 
difficult task of making their relation, every minute 
of the time, not fall below the standard of that other 
hour, in the treasured past, which hung there behind 
them like a framed picture in a museum, a high water 
mark for the history of their old fortune; the summer 
evening, in the park at Fawns, when, side by side under 
the trees just as now, they had let their happy confi 
dence lull them with its most golden tone. There had 
been the possibility of a trap for her, at present, in the 
very question of their taking up anew that residence; 
wherefore she had not been the first to sound it, in 
spite of the impression from him of his holding off to 
see what she would do. She was saying to herself in 
secret: "Can we again, in this form, migrate there? 
Can I, for myself, undertake it? face all the intenser 
keeping-up and stretching-out, indefinitely, impossi 
bly, that our conditions in the country, as we've estab 
lished and accepted them, would stand for?" She had 
positively lost herself in this inward doubt so much 
she was subsequently to remember; but remembering 
then too that her companion, though perceptibly per- 



haps as if not to be eager, had broken the ice very 
much as he had broken it in Eaton Square after the 
banquet to the Castledeans. 

Her mind had taken a long excursion, wandered far 
into the vision of what a summer at Fawns, with 
Amerigo and Charlotte still more eminently in presence 
against that higher sky, would bring forth. Wasn't 
her father meanwhile only pretending to talk of it? 
just as she was, in a manner, pretending to listen? He 
got off it, finally, at all events, for the transition it 
couldn't well help thrusting out at him ; it had amount 
ed exactly to an arrest of her private excursion by the 
sense that he had begun to imitate oh, as never yet! 
the ancient tone of gold. It had verily come from 
him at last, the question of whether she thought it 
would be very good but very good indeed that he 
should leave England for a series of weeks, on some 
pretext, with the Prince. Then it had been that she 
was to know her husband's "menace" hadn't really 
dropped, since she was face to face with the effect of 
it. Ah, the effect of it had occupied all the rest of 
their walk, had stayed out with them and come home 
with them, besides making it impossible that they 
shouldn't presently feign to recollect how rejoining 
the child had been their original purpose. Maggie's 
uneffaced note was that it had, at the end of five min 
utes more, driven them to that endeavour as to a 
refuge, and caused them afterwards to rejoice, as well, 
that the boy's irrepressibly importunate company, in 
due course secured and enjoyed, with the extension im 
parted by his governess, a person expectant of con- 



sideration, constituted a cover for any awkwardness. 
For that was what it had all come to, that the dear 
man had spoken to her to try her quite as he had 
been spoken to himself by Charlotte, with the same 
fine idea. The Princess took it in, on the spot, firmly 
grasping it; she heard them together, her father and 
his wife, dealing with the queer case. "The Prince 
tells me that Maggie has a plan for your taking some 
foreign journey with him, and, as he likes to do every 
thing she wants, he has suggested my speaking to you 
for it as the thing most likely to make you consent. 
So I do speak see? being always so eager myself, 
as you know, to meet Maggie's wishes. I speak, but 
without quite understanding, this time, what she has 
in her head. Why should she, of a sudden, at this 
particular moment, desire to ship you off together and 
to remain here alone with me? The compliment's all 
to me, I admit, and you must decide quite as you like. 
The Prince is quite ready, evidently, to do his part 
but you'll have it out with him. That is you'll have it 
out with her." Something of that kind was what, in 
her mind's ear, Maggie heard and this, after his wait 
ing for her to appeal to him directly, was her father's 
invitation to her to have it out. Well, as she could 
say to herself all the rest of the day, that was what 
they did while they continued to sit there in their 
penny chairs, that was what they had done as much 
as they would now ever, ever, have out anything. The 
measure of this, at least, had been given, that each 
would fight to the last for the protection, for the per 
version, of any real anxiety. She had confessed, in- 



stantly, with her humbugging grin, not flinching by a 
hair, meeting his eyes as mildly as he met hers, she 
had confessed to her fancy that they might both, he 
and his son-in-law, have welcomed such an escapade, 
since they had both been so long so furiously domestic. 
She had almost cocked her hat under the inspiration of 
this opportunity to hint how a couple of spirited young 
men, reacting from confinement and sallying forth arm- 
in-arm, might encounter the agreeable in forms that 
would strike them for the time at least as novel. She 
had felt for fifty seconds, with her eyes, all so sweetly 
and falsely, in her companion's, horribly vulgar; yet 
without minding it either such luck should she have 
if to be nothing worse than vulgar would see her 
through. "And I thought Amerigo might like it 
better," she had said, "than wandering off alone." 

"Do you mean that he won't go unless I take him?" 

She had considered here, and never in her life had 
she considered so promptly and so intently. If she 
really put it that way, her husband, challenged, might 
belie the statement; so that what would that do but 
make her father wonder, make him perhaps ask 
straight out, why she was exerting pressure? She 
couldn't of course afford to be suspected for an instant 
of exerting pressure; which was why she was obliged 
only to make answer : "Wouldn't that be just what you 
must have out with him?" 

"Decidedly if he makes me the proposal. But he 
hasn't made it yet." 

Oh, once more, how she was to feel she had smirked ! 
"Perhaps he's too shy !" 


"Because you're so sure he so really wants my 

"I think he has thought you might like it." 

"Well, I should !" But with this he looked 

away from her, and she held her breath to hear him 
either ask if she wished him to address the question 
to Amerigo straight, or inquire if she should be greatly 
disappointed by his letting it drop. What had "settled" 
her, as she was privately to call it, was that he had 
done neither of these things, and had thereby markedly 
stood off from the risk involved in trying to draw out 
her reason. To attenuate, on the other hand, this ap 
pearance, and quite as if to fill out the too large recep 
tacle made, so musingly, by his abstention, he had 
himself presently given her a reason had positively 
spared her the effort of asking whether he judged 
Charlotte not to have approved. He had taken every 
thing on himself that was what had settled her. She 
had had to wait very little more to feel, with this, how 
much he was taking. The point he made was his lack 
of any eagerness to put time and space, on any such 
scale, between himself and his wife. He wasn't so 
unhappy with her far from it, and Maggie was to 
hold that he had grinned back, paternally, through his 
rather shielding glasses, in easy emphasis of this as 
to be able to hint that he required the relief of absence. 
Therefore, unless it was for the Prince himself ! 

"Oh, I don't think it would have been for Amerigo 
himself. Amerigo and I," Maggie had said, "per 
fectly rub on together." 

"Well then, there we are." 



"I see" and she had again, with sublime bland- 
ness, assented. "There we are." 

"Charlotte and I too," her father had gaily pro 
ceeded, "perfectly rub on together." And then he had 
appeared for a little to be making time. "To put it- 
only so," he had mildly and happily added "to put 
it only so !" He had spoken as if he might easily put 
it much better, yet as if the humour of contented un 
derstatement fairly sufficed for the occasion. He had 
played then, either all consciously or all unconsciously, 
into Charlotte's hands; and the effect of this was to 
render trebly oppressive Maggie's conviction of Char 
lotte's plan. She had done what she wanted, his wife 
had which was also what Amerigo had made her 
do. She had kept her test, Maggie's test, from becom 
ing possible, and had applied instead a test of her own. 
It was exactly as if she had known that her stepdaugh 
ter would be afraid to be summoned to say ; under the 
least approach to cross-examination, why any change 
was desirable; and it was, for our young woman her 
self, still more prodigiously, as if her father had been 
capable of calculations to match, of judging 1 it impor 
tant he shouldn't be brought to demand of her what 
was the matter with her. Why otherwise, with such 
an opportunity, hadn't he demanded it ? Always from 
calculation that was why. that was why. He was 
terrified of the retort he might have invoked : "What, 
my dear, if you come to that, is the matter with you?" 
When, a minute later on, he had followed up his last 
note by a touch or two designed still further to conjure 
away the ghost of the anomalous, at that climax. 



verily she would have had to be dumb to the question. 
"There seems a kind of charm, doesn't there? on our 
life and quite as if, just lately, it had got itself some 
how renewed, had waked up refreshed. A kind of 
wicked selfish prosperity perhaps, as if we had grabbed 
everything, fixed everything, down to the last lovely 
object for the last glass case of the last corner, left 
over, of my old show. That's the only take-off, that it 
has made us perhaps lazy, a wee bit languid lying like 
gods together, all careless of mankind." 

"Do you consider that we're languid?" that form 
of rejoinder she had jumped at for the sake of its 
pretty lightness. "Do you consider that we are care 
less of mankind? living as we do in the biggest 
crowd in the world, and running about always pursued 
and pursuing." 

It had made him think indeed a little longer than 
she had meant; but he came up again, as she might 
have said, smiling. "Wel-1, I don't know. We get 
nothing but the fun, do we?" 

"No," she had hastened to declare; "we certainly 
get nothing but the fun." 

"We do it all," he had remarked, "so beautifully." 

"We do it all so beautifully." She hadn't denied 
this for a moment. "I see what you mean." 

"Well, I mean too," he had gone on, "that we 
haven't, no doubt, enough, the sense of difficulty." 

"Enough? Enough for what?" 

"Enough not to be selfish." 

"I don't think you are selfish," she had returned 
and had managed not to wail it. 



"I don't say that it's me particularly or that it's 
you or Charlotte or Amerigo. But we're selfish to 
gether we move as a selfish mass. You see we want 
always the same thing," he had gone on "and that 
holds us, that binds us, together. We want each 
other," he had further explained; "only wanting it, 
each time, for each other. That's what I call the 
happy spell; but it's also, a little, possibly, the im 

" The immorality' ?" she had pleasantly echoed. 

"Well, we're tremendously moral for ourselves 
that is for each other ; and I won't pretend that I know 
exactly at whose particular personal expense you and 
I, for instance, are happy. What it comes to, I dare 
say, is that there's something haunting as if it were 
a bit uncanny in such a consciousness of our general 
comfort and privilege. Unless indeed," he had ram 
bled on, "it's only I to whom, fantastically, it says so 
much. That's all I mean, at any rate that it's 'sort 
of soothing; as if we were sitting about on divans, 
with pigtails, smoking opium and seeing visions. 'Let 
us then be up and doing' what is it Longfellow says ? 
That seems sometimes to ring out; like the police 
breaking in into our opium den to give us a shake. 
But the beauty of it is, at the same time, that we are 
doing ; we're doing, that is, after all, what we went in 
for. We're working it, our life, our chance, whatever 
you may call it, as we saw it, as we felt it, from the 
first. We have worked it, and what more can you do 
than that? It's a good deal for me," he had wound 
up, "to have made Charlotte so happy to have so 



perfectly contented her. You, from a good way back, 
were a matter of course I mean your being all right ; 
so that I needn't mind your knowing that my great 
interest, since then, has rather inevitably been in mak 
ing sure of the same success, very much to your 
advantage as well, for Charlotte. If we've worked our 
life, our idea really, as I say if at any rate I can sit 
here and say that I've worked my share of it it has 
not been what you may call least by our having put 
Charlotte so at her ease. That has been soothing, all 
round; that has curled up as the biggest of the blue 
fumes, or whatever they are, of the opium. Don't you 
see what a cropper we would have come if she hadn't 
settled down as she has?" And he had concluded by 
turning to Maggie as for something she mightn't 
really have thought of. "You, darling, in that case, I 
verily believe, would have been the one to hate it 

"To hate it ?" Maggie had wondered. 

"To hate our having, with our tremendous inten 
tions, not brought it off. And I daresay I should have 
hated it for you even more than for myself." 

"That's not unlikely perhaps when it was for me, 
after all, that you did it." 

He had hesitated, but only a moment. "I never told 
you so." 

"Well, Charlotte herself soon enough told me." 

"But I never told her," her father had answered. 

"Are you very sure?" she had presently asked. 

"Well, I like to think how thoroughly I was taken 
with her, and how right I was, and how fortunate, to 



have that for my basis. I told her all the good I 
thought of her." 

"Then that," Maggie had returned, "was precisely 
part of the good. I mean it was precisely part of it 
that she could so beautifully understand." 

"Yes understand everything." 

"Everything and in particular your reasons. Her 
telling me that showed me how she had under 

They were face to face again now, and she saw she 
had made his colour rise; it was as if he were still find 
ing in her eyes the concrete image, the enacted scene, 
of her passage with Charlotte, which he was now hear 
ing of for the first time and as to which it would have 
been natural he should question her further. His for 
bearance to do so would but mark, precisely, the com 
plication of his fears. "What she does like," he finally 
said, "is the way it has succeeded." 

"Your marriage?" 

"Yes my whole idea. The way I've been justified. 
That's the joy I give her. If for her, either, it had 

failed !" That, however, was not worth talking 

about ; he had broken off. "You think then you could 
now risk Fawns?" 

"'Risk' it?" 

"Well, morally from the point of view I was talk 
ing of ; that of our sinking deeper into sloth. Our sel 
fishness, somehow, seems at its biggest down there." 

Maggie had allowed him the amusement of her not 
taking this up. "Is Charlotte," she had simply asked, 
"really ready?" 

VOL. II. 7 92 


"Oh, if you and I and Amerigo are. Whenever one 
corners Charlotte," he had developed more at his ease, 
"one finds that she only wants to know what we want. 
Which is what we got her for !" 

"What we got her for exactly!" And so, for a 
little, even though with a certain effect of oddity in 
their more or less successful ease, they left it; left it 
till Maggie made the remark that it was all the same 
wonderful her stepmother should be willing, before the 
season was out, to exchange so much company for so 
much comparative solitude. 

"Ah," he had then made answer, "that's because her 
idea, I think, this time, is that we shall have more 
people, more than we've hitherto had, in the country. 
Don't you remember that that, originally, was what 
we were to get her for?" 

"Oh yes to give us a life." Maggie had gone 
through the form of recalling this, and the light of 
their ancient candour, shining from so far back, had 
seemed to bring out some things so strangely that, 
with the sharpness of the vision, she had risen to her 
feet. "Well, with a 'life' Fawns will certainly do." 
He had remained in his place while she looked over 
his head; the picture, in her vision, had suddenly 
swarmed. The vibration was that of one of the 
lurches of the mystic train in which, with her com 
panion, she was travelling; but she was having to 
steady herself, this time, before meeting his eyes. She 
had measured indeed the full difference between the 
move to Fawns because each of them now knew the 
others wanted it and the pairing-off, for a journey, of 



her husband and her father, which nobody knew that 
either wanted. "More company" at Fawns would be 
effectually enough the key in which her husband and 
her stepmother were at work ; there was truly no ques 
tion but that she and her father must accept any array 
of visitors. No one could try to marry him now. 
What he had just said was a direct plea for that, and 
what was the plea itself but an act of submission to 
Charlotte? He had, from his chair, been noting her 
look, but he had, the next minute, also risen, and then 
it was they had reminded each other of their having 
come out for the boy. Their junction with him and 
with his companion successfully effected, the four had 
moved home more slowly, and still more vaguely ; yet 
with a vagueness that permitted of Maggie's reverting 
an instant to the larger issue. "If we have people in 
the country then, as you were saying, do you know for 
whom my first fancy would be ? You may be amused, 
but it would be for the Castledeans." 

"I see. But why should I be amused ?" 

"Well, I mean I am myself. I don't think I like her 
and yet I like to see her: which, as Amerigo says, 
is 'rum.' " 

"But don't you feel she's very handsome?" her 
father inquired. 

"Yes, but it isn't for that." 

"Then what is it for?" 

"Simply that she may be there just there before us. 
It's as if she may have a value as if something may 
come of her. I don't in the least know what, and she 
rather irritates me meanwhile. I don't even know, I 



admit, why but if we see her often enough I may find 

"Does it matter so very much?" her companion had 
asked while they moved together. 

She had hesitated. "You mean because you do 
rather like her ?" 

He on his side too had waited a little, but then he 
had taken it from her. "Yes, I guess 1 do rather like 

Which she accepted for the first case she could recall 
of their not being affected by a person in the same 
way. It came back therefore to his pretending; but 
she had gone far enough, and to add to her appearance 
of levity she further observed that, though they were 
so far from a novelty, she should also immediately de 
sire, at Fawns, the presence of the Assinghams. That 
put everything on a basis independent of explanations ; 
yet it was extraordinary, at the same time, how much, 
once in the country again with the others, she was go 
ing, as they used to say at home, to need the presence 
of the good Fanny. It was the strangest thing in the 
world, but it was as if Mrs. Assingham might in a 
manner mitigate the intensity of her consciousness 
of Charlotte. It was as if the two would balance, one 
against the other; as if it came round again in that 
fashion to her idea of the equilibrium. It would be 
like putting this friend into her scale to make weight 
into the scale with her father and herself. Amerigo 
and Charlotte would be in the other ; therefore it would 
take the three of them to keep that one straight. And 
as this played, all duskily, in her mind it had received 



from her father, with a sound of suddenness, a lumi 
nous contribution. "Ah, rather! Do let's have the 

"It would be to have them," she had said, "as we 
used so much to have them. For a good long stay, in 
the old way and on the old terms : 'as regular boarders' 
Fanny used to call it. That is if they'll come." 

"As regular boarders, on the old terms that's what 
I should like too. But I guess they'll come," her com 
panion had added in a tone into which she had read 
meanings. The main meaning was that he felt he 
was going to require them quite as much as she was. 
His recognition of the new terms as different from the 
old, what was that, practically, but a confession that 
something had happened, and a perception that, in 
terested in the situation she had helped to create, Mrs. 
Assingham would be, by so much as this, con 
cerned in its inevitable development? It amounted to 
an intimation, off his guard, that he should be thankful 
for some one to turn to. If she had wished covertly 
to sound him he had now, in short, quite given himself 
away, and if she had, even at the start, needed any 
thing more to settle her, here assuredly was enough. 
He had hold of his small grandchild as they re 
traced their steps, swinging the boy's hand and not 
bored, as he never was, by his always bristling, 
like a fat little porcupine, with shrill interroga 
tion-points so that, secretly, while they went, she 
had wondered again if the equilibrium mightn't have 
been more real, mightn't above all have demanded 
less strange a study, had it only been on the books 



that Charlotte should give him a Principino of his 
own. She had repossessed herself now of his other 
arm, only this time she was drawing him back, 
gently, helplessly back, to what they had tried, for the 
hour, to get away from just as he was consciously 
drawing the child, and as high Miss Bogle on her left, 
representing the duties of home, was complacently 
drawing her. The duties of home, when the house in 
Portland Place reappeared, showed, even from a dis 
tance, as vividly there before them. Amerigo and 
Charlotte had come in that is Amerigo had, Char 
lotte, rather, having come out and the pair were 
perched together in the balcony, he bare-headed, she 
divested of her jacket, her mantle, or whatever, but 
crowned with a brilliant brave hat, responsive to the 
balmy day, which Maggie immediately "spotted" as 
new, as insuperably original, as worn, in characteristic 
generous harmony, for the first time; all, evidently, 
to watch for the return of the absent, to be there to 
take them over again as punctually as possible. They 
were gay, they were amused, in the pleasant morning; 
they leaned across the rail and called down their greet 
ing, lighting up the front of the great black house with 
an expression that quite broke the monotony, that 
might almost have shocked the decency, of Portland 
Place. The group on the pavement stared up as at the 
peopled battlements of a castle ; even Miss Bogle, who 
carried her head most aloft, gaped a little, through the 
interval of space, as toward truly superior beings. 
There could scarce have been so much of the open 
mouth since the dingy waits, on Christmas Eve, had so 

1 02 


lamentably chanted for pennies the time when Ameri 
go, insatiable for English customs, had come out, with 
a gasped "Santissima Vergine!" to marvel at the de 
positaries of this tradition and purchase a reprieve. 
Maggie's individual gape was inevitably again for the 
thought of how the pair would be at work. 



SHE had not again, for weeks, had Mrs. Assingham 
so effectually in presence as on the afternoon of that 
lady's return from the Easter party at Matcham; but 
the intermission was made up as soon as the date of the 
migration to Fawns that of the more or less simul 
taneous adjournment of the two houses began to be 
discussed. It had struck her, promptly, that this re 
newal, with an old friend, of the old terms she had 
talked of with her father, was the one opening, for her 
spirit, that wouldn't too much advertise or betray her. 
Even her father, who had always, as he would have 
said, "believed in" their ancient ally, wouldn't neces 
sarily suspect her of invoking Fanny's aid toward any 
special inquiry and least of all if Fanny would only 
act as Fanny so easily might. Maggie's measure of 
Fanny's ease would have been agitating to Mrs. As- 
singham had it been all at once revealed to her as, 
for that matter, it was soon destined to become even 
on a comparatively graduated showing. Our young 
woman's idea, in particular, was that her safety, her 
escape from being herself suspected of suspicion, 
would proceed from this friend's power to cover, to 
protect and, as might be, even showily to represent her 
represent, that is, her relation to the form of the life 



they were all actually leading. This would doubtless 
be, as people said, a large order ; but that Mrs. Assing- 
ham existed, substantially, or could somehow be made 
prevailingly to exist, for her private benefit, was the 
finest flower Maggie had plucked from among the sug 
gestions sown, like abundant seed, on the occasion of 
the entertainment offered in Portland Place to the 
Matcham company. Mrs. Assingham, that night, re 
bounding from dejection, had bristled with bravery 
and sympathy; she had then absolutely, she had per 
haps recklessly, for herself, betrayed the deeper and 
darker consciousness an impression it would now be 
late for her inconsistently to attempt to undo. It was 
with a wonderful air of giving out all these truths that 
the Princess at present approached her again; making 
doubtless at first a sufficient scruple of letting her know 
what in especial she asked of her, yet not a bit ashamed, 
as she in fact quite expressly declared, of Fanny's dis 
cerned foreboding of the strange uses she might per 
haps have for her. Quite from the first, really, Mag 
gie said extraordinary things to her, such as "You can 
help me, you know, my dear, when nobody else can;" 
such as "I almost wish, upon my word, that you had 
something the matter with you, that you had lost your 
health, or your money, or your reputation (forgive me, 
love!) so that I might be with you as much as I want, 
or keep you with me, without exciting comment, with 
out exciting any other remark than that such kind 
nesses are 'like' me." We have each our own way of 
making up for our unselfishness, and Maggie, who had 
no small self at all as against her husband or her father, 



and only a weak and uncertain one as against her step 
mother, would verily, at this crisis, have seen Mrs. As- 
singham's personal life or liberty sacrificed without a 

The attitude that the appetite in question maintained 
in her was to draw peculiar support moreover from the 
current aspects and agitations of her victim. This 
personage struck her, in truth, as ready for almost any 
thing; as not perhaps effusively protesting, yet as 
wanting with a restlessness of her own to know what 
she wanted. And in the long run which was none 
so long either there was to be no difficulty, as hap 
pened, about that. It was as if, for all the world, 
Maggie had let her see that she held her, that she made 
her, fairly responsible for something; not, to begin 
with, dotting all the i's nor hooking together all the 
links, but treating her, without insistence, rather with 
caressing confidence, as there to see and to know, to 
advise and to assist. The theory, visibly, had patched 
itself together for her that the dear woman had some 
how, from the early time, had a hand in all their for 
tunes, so that there was no turn of their common re 
lations and affairs that couldn't be traced back in some 
degree to her original affectionate interest. On this 
affectionate interest the good lady's young friend now 
built, before her eyes very much as a wise, or even as 
a mischievous, child, playing on the floor, might pile 
up blocks, skilfully and dizzily, with an eye on the face 
of a covertly-watching elder. When the blocks tum 
bled down they but acted after the nature of blocks ; yet 
the hour would come for their rising so high that the 



structure would have to be noticed and admired. Mrs. 
Assingham's appearance of unreservedly giving herself 
involved meanwhile, on her own side, no separate rec 
ognitions : her face of almost anxious attention was 
directed altogether to her young friend's so vivid felic 
ity ; it suggested that she took for granted, at the most, 
certain vague recent enhancements of that state. If 
the Princess now, more than before, was going and 
going, she was prompt to publish that she beheld her 
go, that she had always known she would, sooner or 
later, and that any appeal for participation must more 
or less contain and invite the note of triumph. There 
was a blankness in her blandness, assuredly, and very 
nearly an extravagance in her generalising gaiety; a 
precipitation of cheer particularly marked whenever 
they met again after short separations: meetings dur 
ing the first flush of which Maggie sometimes felt re 
minded of other looks in other faces ; of two strangely 
unobliterated impressions above all, the physiognomic 
light that had played out in her husband at the shock 
she had come at last to talk to herself of the "shock" 
of his first vision of her on his return from Matcham 
and Gloucester, and the wonder of Charlotte's beauti 
ful bold wavering gaze when, the next morning in 
Eaton Square, this old friend had turned from the 
window to begin to deal with her. 

If she had dared to think of it so crudely she would 
have said that Fanny was afraid of her, afraid of some 
thing she might say or do, even as, for their few brief 
seconds, Amerigo and Charlotte had been which 
made, exactly, an expressive element common to the 


three. The difference however was that this look 
had in the dear woman its oddity of a constant renewal, 
whereas it had never for the least little instant again 
peeped out of the others. Other looks, other lights, 
radiant and steady, with the others, had taken its place, 
reaching a climax so short a time ago, that morning 
of the appearance of the pair on the balcony of her 
house to overlook what she had been doing with her 
father; when their general interested brightness and 
beauty, attuned to the outbreak of summer, had seemed 
to shed down warmth and welcome and the promise of 
protection. They were conjoined not to do anything 
to startle her and now at last so completely that, with 
experience and practice, they had almost ceased to fear 
their liability. Mrs. Assingham, on the other hand, 
deprecating such an accident not less, had yet less as 
surance, as having less control. The high pitch of 
her cheer, accordingly, the tentative, adventurous ex 
pressions, of the would-be smiling order, that preceded 
her approach even like a squad of skirmishers, or what 
ever they were called, moving ahead of the baggage 
train these things had at the end of a fortnight 
brought a dozen times to our young woman's lips a 
challenge that had the cunning to await its right occa 
sion, but of the relief of which, as a demonstration, 
she meanwhile felt no little need. "You've such a 
dread of my possibly complaining to you that you keep 
pealing all the bells to drown my voice; but don't cry 
out, my dear, till you're hurt and above all ask your 
self how I can be so wicked as to complain. What in 
the name of all that's fantastic can you dream that I 

1 08 


have to complain off" Such inquiries the Princess 
temporarily succeeded in repressing, and she did so, in 
a measure, by the aid of her wondering if this ambi 
guity with which her friend affected her wouldn't be at 
present a good deal like the ambiguity with which she 
herself must frequently affect her father. She won 
dered how she should enjoy, on his part, such a take-up 
as she but just succeeded, from day to day, in sparing 
Mrs. Assingham, and that made for her trying to be 
as easy with this associate as Mr. Verver, blessed man, 
all indulgent but all inscrutable, was with his daughter. 
She had extracted from her, none the less, a vow in 
respect to the time that, if the Colonel might be de 
pended on, they would spend at Fawns; and nothing 
came home to her more, in this connection, or inspired 
her with a more intimate interest, than her sense of 
absolutely seeing her interlocutress forbear to observe 
that Charlotte's view of a long visit, even from such 
allies, was there to be reckoned with. 

Fanny stood off from that proposition as visibly to 
the Princess, and as consciously to herself, as she might 
have backed away from the edge of a chasm into which 
she feared to slip; a truth that contributed again to 
keep before our young woman her own constant danger 
of advertising her subtle processes. That Charlotte 
should have begun to be restrictive about the Assing- 
hams which she had never, and for a hundred obvi 
ously good reasons, been before this in itself was a 
fact of the highest value for Maggie, and of a value 
enhanced by the silence in which Fanny herself so much 
too unmistakably dressed it. What gave it quite 



thrillingly its price was exactly the circumstance that 
it thus opposed her to her stepmother more actively 
if she was to back up her friends for holding out 
than she had ever yet been opposed ; though of course 
with the involved result of the fine chance given Mrs. 
Verver to ask her husband for explanations. Ah, from 
the moment she should be definitely caught in opposi 
tion there would be naturally no saying how much 
Charlotte's opportunities might multiply! What 
would become of her father, she hauntedly asked, if his 
wife, on the one side, should begin to press him to call 
his daughter to order, and the force of old habit to 
put it only at that should dispose him, not less effec 
tively, to believe in this young person at any price? 
There she was, all round, imprisoned in the circle of 
the reasons it was impossible she should give cer 
tainly give him. The house in the country was his 
house, and thereby was Charlotte's ; it was her own and 
Amerigo's only so far as its proper master and mistress 
should profusely place it at their disposal. Maggie 
felt of course that she saw no limit to her father's pro 
fusion, but this couldn't be even at the best the case 
with Charlotte's, whom it would never be decent, when 
all was said, to reduce to fighting for her preferences. 
There were hours, truly, when the Princess saw her 
self as not unarmed for battle if battle might only take 
place without spectators. 

This last advantage for her, was, however, too sadly 
out of the question ; her sole strength lay in her being 
able to see that if Charlotte wouldn't "want" the As- 
singhams it would be because that sentiment too would 



have motives and grounds. She had all the while 
command of one way of meeting any objection, any 
complaint, on his wife's part, reported to her by her 
father ; it would be open to her to retort to his possible 
"What are your reasons, my dear?" by a lucidly-pro 
duced "What are hers, love, please? isn't that what 
we had better know ? Mayn't her reasons be a dislike, 
beautifully founded, of the presence, and thereby of 
the observation, of persons who perhaps know about 
her things it's inconvenient to her they should know ?" 
That hideous card she might in mere logic play being 
by this time, at her still swifter private pace, intimately 
familiar with all the fingered pasteboard in her pack. 
But she could play it only on the forbidden issue of 
sacrificing him ; the issue so forbidden that it involved 
even a horror of finding out if he would really have 
consented to be sacrificed. What she must do she 
must do by keeping her hands off him; and nothing 
meanwhile, as we see, had less in common with that 
scruple than such a merciless manipulation of their 
yielding beneficiaries as her spirit so boldly revelled in. 
She saw herself, in this connexion, without detach 
ment saw others alone with intensity; otherwise she 
might have been struck, fairly have been amused, by 
her free assignment of the pachydermatous quality. If 
she could face the awkwardness of the persistence of 
her friends at Fawns in spite of Charlotte, she some 
how looked to them for an inspiration of courage that 
would improve upon her own. They were in short 
not only themselves to find a plausibility and an audac 
ity, but were somehow by the way to pick up these 



forms for her, Maggie, as well. And she felt indeed 
that she was giving them scant time longer when, one 
afternoon in Portland Place, she broke out with an 
irrelevance that was merely superficial. 

"What awfulness, in heaven's name, is there between 
them? What do you believe, what do you know?" 

Oh, if she went by faces her visitor's sudden white 
ness, at this, might have carried her far ! Fanny As- 
singham turned pale for it, but there was something 
in such an appearance, in the look it put into the eyes, 
that renewed Maggie's conviction of what this com 
panion had been expecting. She had been watching 
it come, come from afar, and now that it was there, 
after all, and the first convulsion over, they would 
doubtless soon find themselves in a more real relation. 
It was there because of the Sunday luncheon they had 
partaken of alone together; it was there, as strangely 
as one would, because of the bad weather, the cold per 
verse June rain, that was making the day wrong; it 
was there because it stood for the whole sum of the 
perplexities and duplicities among which our young 
woman felt herself lately to have picked her steps; it 
was there because Amerigo and Charlotte were again 
paying together alone a "week end" visit which it had 
been Maggie's plan infernally to promote just to see 
if, this time, they really would ; it was there because 
she had kept Fanny, on her side, from paying one she 
would manifestly have been glad to pay, and had made 
her come instead, stupidly, vacantly, boringly, to lunch 
eon : all in the spirit of celebrating the fact that the 
Prince and Mrs. Verver had thus put it into her own 


power to describe them exactly as they were. It had 
abruptly occurred, in truth, that Maggie required the 
preliminary help of determining how they were; 
though, on the other hand, before her guest had an 
swered her question everything in the hour and the 
place, everything in all the conditions, affected her as 
crying it out. Her guest's stare of ignorance, above 
all that of itself at first cried it out. " 'Between 
them ?' What do you mean ?" 

"Anything there shouldn't be, there shouldn't have 
been all this time. Do you believe there is or 
what's your idea?" 

Fanny's idea was clearly, to begin with, that her 
young friend had taken her breath away; but she 
looked at her very straight and very hard. "Do you 
speak from a suspicion of your own ?" 

"I speak, at last, from a torment. Forgive me if it 
comes out. I've been thinking for months and 
months, and I've no one to turn to, no one to help me 
to make things out; no impression but my own, don't 
you see ? to go by." 

"You've been thinking for months and months?" 
Mrs. Assingham took it in. "But what then, dear 
Maggie, have you been thinking?" 

"Well, horrible things like a little beast that I per 
haps am. That there may be something something 
wrong and dreadful, something they cover up." 

The elder woman's colour had begun to come back ; 
she was able, though with a visible effort, to face the 
question less amazedly. "You imagine, poor child, 
that the wretches are in love ? Is that it ?" 
VOL. II. 8 113 


But Maggie for a minute only stared back at her. 
''Help me to find out what I imagine. I don't know 
I've nothing but my perpetual anxiety. Have you 
any? do you see what I mean? If you'll tell me 
truly, that at least, one way or the other, will do some 
thing for me." 

Fanny's look had taken a peculiar gravity a fulness 
with which it seemed to shine. "Is what it comes to 
that you're jealous of Charlotte?" 

"Do you mean whether I hate her?" and Maggie 
thought. "No; not on account of father." 

"Ah," Mrs. Assingham returned, "that isn't what 
one would suppose. What I ask is if you're jealous 
on account of your husband." 

"Well," said Maggie presently, "perhaps that may 
be all. If I'm unhappy I'm jealous; it must come to 
the same thing; and with you, at least, I'm not afraid 
of the word. If I'm jealous, don't you see? I'm tor 
mented," she went on "and all the more if I'm help 
less. And if I'm both helpless and tormented I stuff 
my pocket-handkerchief into my mouth, I keep it there, 
for the most part, night and day, so as not to be heard 
too indecently moaning. Only now, with you, at last, 
I can't keep it longer ; I've pulled it out, and here I am 
fairly screaming at you. They're away," she wound 
up, "so they can't hear; and I'm, by a miracle of ar 
rangement, not at luncheon with father at home. I 
live in the midst of miracles of arrangement, half of 
which I admit, are my own; I go about on tiptoe, I 
watch for every sound, I feel every breath, and yet I 
try all the while to seem as smooth as old satin dyed 



rose-colour. Have you ever thought of me," she 
asked, "as really feeling as I do?" 

Her companion, conspicuously, required to be clear. 

"Jealous, unhappy, tormented ? No," said Mrs. 

Assingham; "but at the same time and though you 
may laugh at me for it! I'm bound to confess that 
I've never been so awfully sure of what I may call 
knowing you. Here you are indeed, as you say such 
a deep little person! I've never imagined your ex 
istence poisoned, and, since you wish to know if I con 
sider that it need be, I've not the least difficulty in 
speaking on the spot. Nothing, decidedly, strikes me 
as more unnecessary." 

For a minute after this they remained face to face; 
Maggie had sprung up while her friend sat enthroned, 
and, after moving to and fro in her intensity, now 
paused to receive the light she had invoked. It had 
accumulated, considerably, by this time, round Mrs. 
Assingham's ample presence, and it made, even to our 
young woman's own sense, a medium in which she 
could at last take a deeper breath. "I've affected you, 
these months and these last weeks in especial as 
quiet and natural and easy?" 

But it was a question that took, not imperceptibly, 
some answering. "You've never affected me, from 
the first hour I beheld you, as anything but in a way 
all your own absolutely good and sweet and beauti 
ful. In a way, as I say," Mrs. Assingham almost 
caressingly repeated, "just all your very own no 
body else's at all. I've never thought of you but as 
outside of ugly things, so ignorant of any falsity or 


cruelty or vulgarity as never to have to be touched by 
them or to touch them. I've never mixed you up with 
them; there would have been time enough for that if 
they had seemed to be near you. But they haven't 
if that's what you want to know." 

"You've only believed me contented then because 
you've believed me stupid?" 

Mrs. Assingham had a free smile, now, for the 
length of this stride, dissimulated though it might be 
in a graceful little frisk. "If I had believed you stupid 
I shouldn't have thought you interesting, and if I 
hadn't thought you interesting I shouldn't have noted 
whether I 'knew' you, as I've called it, or not. 
What I've always been conscious of is your having 
concealed about you somewhere no small amount 
of character; quite as much in fact," Fanny smiled, 
"as one could suppose a person of your size able 
to carry. The only thing was," she explained, 
"that thanks to your never calling one's attention 
to it, I hadn't made out much more about it, and should 
have been vague, above all, as to where you carried it 
or kept it. Somewhere under, I should simply have 
said like that little silver cross you once showed me, 
blest by the Holy Father, that you always wear, out 
of sight, next your skin. That relic I've had a glimpse 
of" with which she continued to invoke the privilege 
of humour. "But the precious little innermost, say 
this time little golden, personal nature of you blest 
by a greater power, I think, even than the Pope that 
you've never consentingly shown me. I'm not sure 



you've ever consentingly shown it to anyone. You've 
been in general too modest." 

Maggie, trying to follow, almost achieved a little 
fold of her forehead. "I strike you as modest to-day 
modest when I stand here and scream at you?" 

"Oh, your screaming, I've granted you, is something 
new. I must fit it on somewhere. The question is, 
however," Mrs. Assingham further proceeded, "of 
what the deuce I can fit it on to. Do you mean," she 
asked, "to the fact of our friends' being, from yester 
day to to-morrow, at a place where they may more or 
less irresponsibly meet?" She spoke with the air of 
putting it as badly for them as possible. "Are you 
thinking of their being there alone of their having 
consented to be?" And then as she had waited with 
out result for her companion to say : "But isn't it true 
that after you had this time again, at the eleventh 
hour, said you wouldn't they would really much 
rather not have gone ?" 

"Yes they would certainly much rather not have 
gone. But I wanted them to go." 

"Then, my dear child, what in the world is the mat 

"I wanted to see if they would. And they've had 
to," Maggie added. "It was the only thing." 

Her friend appeared to wonder. "From the mo 
ment you and your father backed out?" 

"Oh, I don't mean go for those people; I mean go 
for us. For father and me," Maggie went on. 
"Because now they know." 


"They 'know' ?" Fanny Assingham quavered. 

"That I've been for some time past taking more 
notice. Notice of the queer things in our life." 

Maggie saw her companion for an instant on the 
point of asking her what these queer things might be ; 
' but Mrs. Assingham had the next minute brushed by 
that ambiguous opening and taken, as she evidently 
felt, a better one. "And is it for that you did it ? I 
mean gave up the visit." 

"It's for that I did it. To leave them to themselves 
as they less and less want, or at any rate less and less 
venture to appear to want, to be left. As they had for 
so long arranged things," the Princess went on, "you 
see they sometimes have to be." And then, as if 
baffled by the lucidity of this, Mrs. Assingham for 
a little said nothing: "Now do you think I'm 

With time, however, Fanny could brilliantly think 
anything that would serve. "I think you're wrong. 
That, my dear, is my answer to your question. It de 
mands assuredly the straightest I can make. I see no 
'awfulness' I suspect none. I'm deeply distressed," 
she added, "that you should do anything else." 

It drew again from Maggie a long look. "You've 
never even imagined anything?" 

"Ah, God forbid! for it's exactly as a woman of 
imagination that I speak. There's no moment of my 
life at which I'm not imagining something; and it's 
thanks to that, darling," Mrs. Assingham pursued, 
"that I figure the sincerity with which your husband, 
whom you see as viciously occupied with your step- 



mother, is interested, is tenderly interested, in his ad 
mirable, adorable wife." She paused a minute as to 
give her friend the full benefit of this as to Maggie's 
measure of which, however, no sign came; and then, 
poor woman, haplessly, she crowned her effort. "He 
wouldn't hurt a hair of your head." 

It had produced in Maggie, at once, and apparently 
in the intended form of a smile, the most extraordi 
nary expression. "Ah, there it is !" 

But her guest had already gone on. "And I'm ab 
solutely certain that Charlotte wouldn't either." 

It kept the Princess, with her strange grimace, 
standing there. "No Charlotte wouldn't either. 
That's how they've had again to go off together. 
They've been afraid not to lest it should disturb me, 
aggravate me, somehow work upon me. As I insisted 
that they must, that we couldn't all fail though father 
and Charlotte hadn't really accepted ; as I did this they 
had to yield to the fear that their showing as afraid 
to move together would count for them as the greater 
danger: which would be the danger, you see, of my 
feeling myself wronged. Their least danger, they 
know, is in going on with all the things that I've 
seemed to accept and that I've given no indication, at 
any moment, of not accepting. Everything that has 
come up for them has come up, in an extraordinary 
manner, without my having by a sound or a sign 
given myself away so that it's all as wonderful as 
you may conceive. They move at any rate among the 
dangers I speak of between that of their doing too 
much and that of their not having any longer the con- 



fidence, or the nerve, or whatever you may call it, to 
do enough." Her tone, by this time, might have 
shown a strangeness to match her smile; which was 
still more marked as she wound up. "And that's how 
I make them do what I like!" 

It had an effect on Mrs. Assingham, who rose with 
the deliberation that, from point to point, marked the 
widening of her grasp. "My dear child, you're amaz- 

"Amazing ?" 

"You're terrible." 

Maggie thoughtfully shook her head. "No; I'm 
not terrible, and you don't think me so. I do strike 
you as surprising, no doubt but surprisingly mild. 
Because don't you see ? I am mild. I can bear any 

"Oh, 'bear' !" Mrs. Assingham fluted. 

"For love," said the Princess. 

Fanny hesitated. "Of your father?" 

"For love," Maggie repeated. 

It kept her friend watching. "Of your hus 

"For love," Maggie said again. 

It was, for the moment, as if the distinctness of this 
might have determined in her companion a choice 
between two or three highly different alternatives. 
Mrs. Assingham's rejoinder, at all events however 
much or however little it was a choice was presently 
a triumph. "Speaking with this love of your own 
then, have you undertaken to convey to me that you 
believe your husband and your father's wife to be in 

1 20 


act and in fact lovers of each other?" And then as 
the Princess didn't at first answer : "Do you call such 
an allegation as that 'mild'?" 

"Oh, I'm not pretending to be mild to you. But 
I've told you, and moreover you must have seen for 
yourself, how much so I've been to them." 

Mrs. Assingham, more brightly again, bridled. "Is 
that what you call it when you make them, for terror 
as you say, do as you like?" 

"Ah, there wouldn't be any terror for them if they 
had nothing to hide." 

Mrs. Assingham faced her quite steady now. 
"Are you really conscious, love, of what you're say- 

"I'm saying that I'm bewildered and tormented, and 
that I've no one but you to speak to. I've thought, 
I've in fact been sure, that you've seen for yourself 
how much this is the case. It's why I've believed you 
would meet me half way." 

"Half way to what? To denouncing," Fanny 
asked, "two persons, friends of years, whom I've 
always immensely admired and liked, and against 
whom I haven't the shadow of a charge to make?" 

Maggie looked at her with wide eyes. "I had much 
rather you should denounce me than denounce them. 
Denounce me, denounce me," she said, "if you can see 
your way." It was exactly what she appeared to have 
argued out with herself. "If, conscientiously, you can 
denounce me; if, conscientiously, you can revile me; if, 
conscientiously, you can put me in my place for a low- 
minded little pig !" 



"Well ?" said Mrs. Assingham, consideringly, as she 
paused for emphasis. 

"I think I shall be saved." 

Her friend took it, for a minute, however, by carry 
ing thoughtful eyes, eyes verily portentous, over her 
head. "You say you've no one to speak to, and you 
make a point of your having so disguised your feelings 
not having, as you call it, given yourself away. 
Have you then never seen it not only as your right, 
but as your bounden duty, worked up to such a pitch, 
to speak to your husband ?" 

"I've spoken to him," said Maggie. 

Mrs. Assingham stared. "Ah, then it isn't true 
that you've made no sign." 

Maggie had a silence. "I've made no trouble. 
I've made no scene. I've taken no stand. I've 
neither reproached nor accused him. You'll say 
there's a way in all that of being nasty enough." 

"Oh !" dropped from Fanny as if she couldn't help it. 

"But I don't think strangely enough that he re 
gards me as nasty. I think that at bottom for that 
is," said the Princess, "the strangeness he's sorry for 
me. Yes, I think that, deep within, he pities me." 

Her companion wondered. "For the state you've 
let yourself get into?" 

"For not being happy when I've so much to make 
me so." 

"You've everything," said Mrs. Assingham with 
alacrity. Yet she remained for an instant embar 
rassed as to a further advance. "I don't understand, 

however, how, if you've done nothing " 



An impatience from Maggie had checked her. 
"I've not done absolutely 'nothing.' ' 

"But what then ?" 

"Well," she went on after a minute, "he knows what 
I've done." 

It produced on Mrs. Assingham's part, her whole 
tone and manner exquisitely aiding, a hush not less 
prolonged, and the very duration of which inevitably 
gave it something of the character of an equal recogni 
tion. "And what then has he done?" 

Maggie took again a minute. "He has been splen 

"'Splendid'? Then what more do you want?" 

"Ah, what you see!" said Maggie. "Not to be 

It made her guest again hang fire. "Not to be 
afraid really to speak?" 

"Not to be afraid not to speak." 

Mrs. Assingham considered further. "You can't 
even to Charlotte?" But as, at this, after a look at 
her, Maggie turned off with a movement of suppressed 
despair, she checked herself and might have been 
watching her, for all the difficulty and the pity of it, 
vaguely moving to the window and the view of the 
dull street. It was almost as if she had had to give 
up, from failure of responsive wit in her friend the 
last failure she had feared the hope of the particular 
relief she had been working for. Mrs. Assingham re 
sumed the next instant, however, in the very tone that 
seemed most to promise her she should have to give up 
nothing. "I see, I see; you would have in that case 



too many things to consider." It brought the Prin 
cess round again, proving itself thus the note of com 
prehension she wished most to clutch at. "Don't be 

Maggie took it where she stood which she was 
soon able to signify. "Thank-you." 

It very properly encouraged her counsellor. "What 
your idea imputes is a criminal intrigue carried on, 
from day to day, amid perfect trust and sympathy, not 
only under your eyes, but under your father's. That's 
an idea it's impossible for me for a moment to enter 

"Ah, there you are then! It's exactly what I 
wanted from you." 

"You're welcome to it!" Mrs. Assingham breathed. 

"You never have entertained it?" Maggie pur 

"Never for an instant," said Fanny with her head 
very high. 

Maggie took it again, yet again as wanting more. 
"Pardon my being so horrid. But by all you hold 

Mrs. Assingham faced her. "Ah, my dear, upon 
my positive word as an honest woman." 

"Thank-you then," said the Princess. 

So they remained a little; after which, "But do you 
believe it, love?" Fanny inquired. 

"I believe you." 

"Well, as I've faith in them, it comes to the same 

Maggie, at this last, appeared for a moment to think 


again ; but she embraced the proposition. "The same 

"Then you're no longer unhappy ?" her guest urged, 
coming more gaily toward her. 

"I doubtless shan't be a great while." 

But it was now Mrs. Assingham's turn to want 
more. "I've convinced you it's impossible?" 

She had held out her arms, and Maggie, after a 
moment, meeting her, threw herself into them with a 
sound that had its oddity as a sign of relief. "Impos 
sible, impossible," she emphatically, more than em 
phatically, replied; yet the next minute she had burst 
into tears over the impossibility, and a few seconds 
later, pressing, clinging, sobbing, had even caused 
them to flow, audibly, sympathetically and perversely, 
from her friend. 



THE understanding appeared to have come to be that 
the Colonel and his wife were to present themselves 
toward the middle of July for the "good long visit" at 
Fawns on which Maggie had obtained from her father 
that he should genially insist ; as well as that the couple 
from Eaton Square should welcome there earlier in the 
month, and less than a week after their own arrival, 
the advent of the couple from Portland Place. "Oh, 
we shall give you time to breathe!" Fanny remarked, 
in reference to the general prospect, with a gaiety that 
announced itself as heedless of criticism, to each mem 
ber of the party in turn ; sustaining and bracing herself 
by her emphasis, pushed even to an amiable cynicism, 
of the confident view of these punctualities of the As- 
singhams. The ground she could best occupy, to her 
sense, was that of her being moved, as in this connex 
ion she had always been moved, by the admitted gross- 
ness of her avidity, the way the hospitality of the 
Ververs met her convenience and ministered to her 
ease, destitute as the Colonel had kept her, from the 
first, of any rustic retreat, any leafy bower of her own, 
any fixed base for the stale season now at hand. 
She had explained at home, she had repeatedly re- 
explained, the terms of her dilemma, the real difficulty 
of her, or as she now put it of their, position. 



When the pair could do nothing else, in Cadogan 
Place, they could still talk of marvellous little Maggie, 
and of the charm, the sinister charm, of their having 
to hold their breath to watch her; a topic the momen 
tous midnight discussion at which we have been pres 
ent was so far from having exhausted. It came up, 
irrepressibly, at all private hours; they had planted it 
there between them, and it grew, from day to day, in 
a manner to make their sense of responsibility almost 
yield to their sense of fascination. Mrs. Assingham 
declared at such moments that in the interest of this 
admirable young thing to whom, she also declared, 
she had quite "come over" she was ready to pass with 
all the world else, even with the Prince himself, the 
object, inconsequently, as well, of her continued, her 
explicitly shameless appreciation, for a vulgar, indeli 
cate, pestilential woman, showing her true character 
in an abandoned old age. The Colonel's confessed at 
tention had been enlisted, we have seen, as never yet, 
under pressure from his wife, by any guaranteed 
imbroglio ; but this, she could assure him she perfectly 
knew, was not a bit because he was sorry for her, or 
touched by what she had let herself in for, but because, 
when once they had been opened, he couldn't keep his 
eyes from resting complacently, resting almost intelli 
gently, on the Princess. If he was in love with her 
now, however, so much the better ; it would help them 
both not to wince at what they would have to do for 
her. Mrs. Assingham had come back to that, when 
ever he groaned or grunted; she had at no beguiled 
moment since Maggie's little march was positively 



beguiling let him lose sight of the grim necessity 
awaiting them. "We shall have, as I've again and 
again told you, to lie for her to lie till we're black in 
the face." 

"To lie 'for' her?" The Colonel often, at these 
hours, as from a vague vision of old chivalry in a new 
form, wandered into apparent lapses from lucidity. 

"To lie to her, up and down, and in and out it 
comes to the same thing. It will consist just as much 
of lying to the others too : to the Prince about one's be 
lief in him; to Charlotte about one's belief in her; to 
Mr. Verver, dear sweet man, about one's belief in 
everyone. So we've work cut out with the biggest 
lie, on top of all, being that we like to be there for such 
a purpose. We hate it unspeakably I'm more ready 
to be a coward before it, to let the whole thing, to let 
everyone, selfishly and pusillanimously slide, than be 
fore any social duty, any felt human call, that has ever 
forced me to be decent. I speak at least for myself. 
For you," she had added, "as I've given you so perfect 
an opportunity to fall in love with Maggie, you'll 
doubtless find your account in being so much nearer 
to her." 

"And what do you make," the Colonel could, at this, 
always imperturbably enough ask, "of the account you 
yourself will find in being so much nearer to the 
Prince; of your confirmed, if not exasperated, infatua 
tion with whom to say nothing of my weak good 
nature about it you give such a pretty picture?" 

To the picture in question she had been always, in 
fact, able contemplatively to return. "The difficulty of 



my enjoyment of that is, don't you see ? that I'm mak 
ing, in my loyalty to Maggie, a sad hash of his 
affection for me." 

"You find means to call it then, this whitewashing 
of his crime, being 'loyal' to Maggie ?" 

"Oh, about that particular crime there is always 
much to say. It is always more interesting to us than 
any other crime; it has at least that for it. But of 
course I call everything I have in mind at all being 
loyal to Maggie. Being loyal to her is, more than 
anything else, helping her with her father which is 
what she most wants and needs." 

The Colonel had had it before, but he could appar 
ently never have too much of it. "Helping her 'with' 
him ?" 

"Helping her against him then. Against what we've 
already so fully talked of its having to be recognised 
between them that he doubts. That's where my part 
is so plain to see her through, to see her through to 
the end." Exaltation, for the moment, always lighted 
Mrs. Assingham's reference to this plainness; yet she 
at the same time seldom failed, the next instant, to 
qualify her view of it. "When I talk of my obligation 
as clear I mean that it's absolute; for just how, from 
day to day and through thick and thin, to keep the 
thing up is, I grant you, another matter. There's one 
way, luckily, nevertheless, in which I'm strong. I can 
so perfectly count on her." 

The Colonel seldom failed here, as from the in 
sidious growth of an excitement, to wonder, to en 
courage. "Not to see you're lying?" 

VOL. II. 9 129 


"To stick to me fast, whatever she sees. If I stick 
to her that is to my own poor struggling way, under 
providence, of watching over them all she'll stand by 
me to the death. She won't give me away. For, you 
know, she easily can." 

This, regularly, was the most lurid turn of their 
road; but Bob Assingham, with each journey, met it 
as for the first time. "Easily ?" 

"She can utterly dishonour me with her father. She 
can let him know that I was aware, at the time of his 
marriage as I had been aware at the time of her own 
of the relations that had pre-existed between his 
wife and her husband." 

"And how can she do so if, up to this minute, by 
your own statement, she is herself in ignorance of your 
knowledge ?" 

It was a question that Mrs. Assingham had ever, 
for dealing with, a manner to which repeated practice 
had given almost a grand effect; very much as if she 
was invited by it to say that about this, exactly, she 
proposed to do her best lying. But she said, and with 
full lucidity, something quite other : it could give itself 
a little the air, still, of a triumph over his coarseness. 
"By acting, immediately with the blind resentment 
with which, in her place, ninety-nine women out of a 
hundred would act; and by so making Mr. Verver, 
in turn, act with the same natural passion, the passion 
of ninety-nine men out of a hundred. They've only to 
agree about me," the poor lady said; "they've only to 
feel at one over it, feel bitterly practised upon, cheated 
and injured; they've only to denounce me to each other 



as false and infamous, for me to be quite irretrievably 
dished. Of course it's I who have been, and who con 
tinue to be, cheated cheated by the Prince and Char 
lotte; but they're not obliged to give me the benefit 
of that, or to give either of us the benefit of anything. 
They'll be within their rights to lump us all together 
as a false, cruel, conspiring crew, and, if they can find 
the right facts to support them, get rid of us root and 

This, on each occasion, put the matter so at the 
worst that repetition even scarce controlled the hot 
flush with which she was compelled to see the parts 
of the whole history, all its ugly consistency and its 
temporary gloss, hang together. She enjoyed, in 
variably, the sense of making her danger present, of 
making it real, to her husband, and of his almost 
turning pale, when their eyes met, at this possibility 
of their compromised state and their shared discredit. 
The beauty was that, as under a touch of one of the 
ivory notes at the left of the keyboard, he sounded out 
with the short sharpness of the dear fond stupid un 
easy man. "Conspiring so far as you were concerned 
to what end?" 

"Why, to the obvious end of getting the Prince a 
wife at Maggie's expense. And then to that of get 
ting Charlotte a husband at Mr. Verver's." 

"Of rendering friendly services, yes which have 
produced, as it turns out, complications. But from the 
moment you didn't do it for the complications, why 
shouldn't you have rendered them?" 

It was extraordinary for her, always, in this con- 


nexion, how, with time given him, he fell to speaking 
better for her than she could, in the presence of her 
clear-cut image of the "worst," speak for herself. 
Troubled as she was she thus never wholly failed of 
her amusement by the way. "Oh, isn't what I may 
have meddled 'for' so far as it can be proved I did 
meddle open to interpretation; by which I mean to 
Mr. Verver's and Maggie's ? Mayn't they see my mo 
tive, in the light of that appreciation, as the wish to 
be decidedly more friendly to the others than to the 
victimised father and daughter?" She positively liked 
to keep it up. "Mayn't they see my motive as the de 
termination to serve the Prince, in any case, and at 
any price, first; to 'place' him comfortably; in other 
words to find him his fill of money ? Mayn't it have all 
the air for them of a really equivocal, sinister bargain 
between us something quite unholy and louche ?" 

It produced in the poor Colonel, infallibly, the echo. 

"'Louche,' love ?" 

"Why, haven't you said as much yourself ? haven't 
you put your finger on that awful -possibility?" 

She had a way now, with his felicities, that made 
him enjoy being reminded of them. "In speaking of 
your having always had such a 'mash' ?" 

"Such a mash, precisely, for the man I was to help 
to put so splendidly at his ease. A motherly mash an 
impartial look at it would show it only as likely to 
have been but we're not talking, of course, about im 
partial looks. We're talking of good innocent people 
deeply worked upon by a horrid discovery, and going 
much further, in their view of the lurid, as such people 



almost always do, than those who have been wider 
awake, all round, from the first. What I was to have 
got from my friend, in such a view, in exchange for 
what I had been able to do for him well, that would 
have been an equivalent, of a kind best known to 
myself, for me shrewdly to consider." And she easily 
lost herself, each time, in the anxious satisfaction of 
filling out the picture. "It would have been seen, it 
would have been heard of, before, the case of the 
woman a man doesn't want, or of whom he's tired, 
or for whom he has no use but such uses, and who is 
capable, in her infatuation, in her passion, of promoting 
his interests with other women rather than lose sight 
of him, lose touch of him, cease to have to do with 
him at all. Cela s'est vu, my dear ; and stranger things 
still as I needn't tell you! Very good then," she 
wound up; "there is a perfectly possible conception of 
the behaviour of your sweet wife; since, as I say, 
there's no imagination so lively, once it's started, as 
that of really agitated lambs. Lions are nothing to 
them, for lions are sophisticated, are biases, are 
brought up, from the first, to prowling and mauling. 
It does give us, you'll admit, something to think about. 
My relief is luckily, however, in what I finally do 

He was well enough aware, by this time, of what she 
finally did think; but he was not without a sense, 
again, also for his amusement by the way. It would 
have made him, for a spectator of these passages be 
tween the pair, resemble not a little the artless child 
who hears his favourite story told for the twentieth 


time and enjoys it exactly because he knows what is 
next to happen. "What of course will pull them up, 
if they turn out to have less imagination than you as 
sume, is the profit you can have found in furthering 
Mrs. Verver's marriage. You weren't at least in love 
with Charlotte." 

"Oh," Mrs. Assingham, at this, always brought out, 
"my hand in that is easily accounted for by my desire 
to be agreeable to him." 

"To Mr. Verver?" 

"To the Prince by preventing her in that way from 
taking, as he was in danger of seeing her do, some 
husband with whom he wouldn't be able to open, to 
keep open, so large an account as with his father-in- 
law. I've brought her near him, kept her within his 
reach, as she could never have remained either as a 
single woman or as the wife of a different man." 

"Kept her, on that sweet construction, to be his 
mistress ?" 

"Kept her, on that sweet construction, to be his mis 
tress." She brought it out grandly it had always so, 
for her own ear as well as, visibly, for her husband's, 
its effect. "The facilities in the case, thanks to the 
particular conditions, being so quite ideal." 

"Down even to the facility of your minding every 
thing so little from your own point of view as to 
have supplied him with the enjoyment of two beautiful 

"Down even to that to the monstrosity of my folly. 
But not," Mrs. Assingham added, " 'two' of anything. 
One beautiful woman and one beautiful fortune. 



That's what a creature of pure virtue exposes herself 
to when she suffers her pure virtue, suffers her sym 
pathy, her disinterestedness, her exquisite sense for 
the lives of others, to carry her too far. Voila" 

"I see. It's the way the Ververs have you." 

"It's the way the Ververs 'have' me. It's in other 
words the way they would be able to make such a 
show to each other of having me if Maggie weren't 
so divine." 

"She lets you off?" He never failed to insist on all 
this to the very end; which was how he had become 
so versed in what she finally thought. 

"She lets me off. So that now, horrified and con 
trite at what I've done, I may work to help her out. 
And Mr. Verver," she was fond of adding, "lets me 
off too." 

"Then you do believe he knows?" 

It determined in her always, there, with a significant 
pause, a deep immersion in her thought. "I believe 
he would let me off if he did know so that I might 
work to help him out. Or rather, really," she went 
on, "that I might work to help Maggie. That would 
be his motive, that would be his condition, in forgiving 
me; just as hers, for me, in fact, her motive and her 
condition, are my acting to spare her father. But it's 
with Maggie only that I'm directly concerned ; nothing, 
ever not a breath, not a look, I'll guarantee shall I 
have, whatever happens, from Mr. Verver himself. 
So it is, therefore, that I shall probably, by the closest 
possible shave, escape the penalty of my crimes." 

"You mean being held responsible." 


"I mean being held responsible. My advantage will 
be that Maggie's such a trump." 

"Such a trump that, as you say, she'll stick to you." 

"Stick to me, on our understanding stick to me. 
For our understanding's signed and sealed." And to 
brood over it again was ever, for Mrs. Assingham, to 
break out again with exaltation. "It's a grand, high 
compact. She has solemnly promised." 

"But in words ?" 

"Oh yes, in words enough since it's a matter of 
words. To keep up her lie so long as I keep up mine." 

"And what do you call 'her' lie?" 

"Why, the pretence that she believes me. Believes 
they're innocent." 

"She positively believes then they're guilty? She 
has arrived at that, she's really content with it, in the 
absence of proof?" 

It was here, each time, that Fanny Assingham most 
faltered; but always at last to get the matter, for her 
own sense, and with a long sigh, sufficiently straight. 
"It isn't a question of belief or of proof, absent or 
present ; it's inevitably, with her, a question of natural 
perception, of insurmountable feeling. She irresistibly 
knows that there's something between them. But she 
hasn't 'arrived' at it, as you say, at all; that's exactly 
what she hasn't done, what she so steadily and in 
tensely refuses to do. She stands off and off, so as not 
to arrive; she keeps out to sea and away from the 
rocks, and what she most wants of me is to keep at 
a safe distance with her as I, for my own skin, only 
ask not to come nearer." After which, invariably, she 



let him have it all. "So far from wanting proof 
which she must get, in a manner, by my siding with 
her she wants disproof, as against herself, and has 
appealed to me, so extraordinarily, to side against her. 
It's really magnificent, when you come to think of it, 
the spirit of her appeal. If I'll but cover them up 
brazenly enough, the others, so as to show, round and 
about them, as happy as a bird, she on her side will do 
what she can. If I'll keep them quiet, in a word, it 
will enable her to gain time time as against any idea 
of her father's and so, somehow, come out. If I'll 
take care of Charlotte, in particular, she'll take care 
of the Prince; and it's beautiful and wonderful, really 
pathetic and exquisite, to see what she feels that time 
may do for her." 

"Ah, but what does she call, poor little thing, 

"Well, this summer at Fawns, to begin with. She 
can live as yet, of course, but from hand to mouth ; but 
she has worked it out for herself, I think, that the 
very danger of Fawns, superficially looked at, may 
practically amount to a greater protection. There 
the lovers if they are lovers! will have to mind. 
They'll feel it for themselves, unless things are too 
utterly far gone with them." 

"And things are not too utterly far gone with 

She had inevitably, poor woman, her hesitation for 
this, but she put down her answer as, for the purchase 
of some absolutely indispensable article, she would 
have put down her last shilling. "No." 



It made him always grin at her. "Is that a lie?" 

"Do you think you're worth lying to ? If it weren't 
the truth, for me," she added, "I wouldn't have ac 
cepted for Fawns. I can, I believe, keep the wretches 

"But how at the worst?" 

"Oh, 'the worst' don't talk about the worst! I 
can keep them quiet at the best, I seem to feel, simply 
by our being there. It will work, from week to week, 
of itself. You'll see." 

He was willing enough to see, but he desired to pro 
vide ! "Yet if it doesn't work?" 

"Ah, that's talking about the worst!" 

Well, it might be; but what were they doing, from 
morning to night, at this crisis, but talk? "Who'll 
keep the others?" 

"The others ?" 

"Who'll keep them quiet? If your couple have had 
a life together, they can't have had it completely with 
out witnesses, without the help of persons, however 
few, who must have some knowledge, some idea about 
them. They've had to meet, secretly, protectedly, 
they've had to arrange; for if they haven't met, and 
haven't arranged, and haven't thereby, in some quarter 
or other, had to give themselves away, why are we 
piling it up so ? Therefore if there's evidence, up and 
down London " 

"There must be people in possession of it? Ah, it 
isn't all," she always remembered, "up and down Lon 
don. Some of it must connect them I mean," she 
musingly added, "it naturally would with other 



places; with who knows what strange adventures, op 
portunities, dissimulations? But whatever there may 
have been, it will also all have been buried on the spot. 
Oh, they've known how too beautifully! But noth 
ing, all the same, is likely to find its way to Maggie of 

"Because every one who may have anything to tell, 
you hold, will have been so squared?" And then in- 
veterately, before she could say he enjoyed so much 
coming to this : "What will have squared Lady 

"The consciousness" she had never lost her 
promptness "of having no stones to throw at any one 
else's windows. She has enough to do to guard her 
own glass. That was what she was doing," Fanny 
said, "that last morning at Matcham when all of us 
went off and she kept the Prince and Charlotte over. 
She helped them simply that she might herself be 
helped if it wasn't perhaps, rather, with her ridicu 
lous Mr. Blint, that he might be. They put in 
together, therefore, of course, that day; they got it 
clear and quite under her eyes; inasmuch as they 
didn't become traceable again, as we know, till late in 
the evening." On this historic circumstance Mrs. As- 
singham was always ready afresh to brood; but she 
was no less ready, after her brooding, devoutly to add : 
"Only we know nothing whatever else for which all 
our stars be thanked !" 

The Colonel's gratitude was apt to be less marked. 
"What did they do for themselves, all the same, from 
the moment they got that free hand to the moment 



(long after dinner-time, haven't you told me?) of 
their turning up at their respective homes?" 

"Well, it's none of your business!" 

"I don't speak of it as mine, but it's only too much 
theirs. People are always traceable, in England, 
when tracings are required. Something, sooner or 
later, happens; somebody, sooner or later, breaks the 
holy calm. Murder will out." 

"Murder will but this isn't murder. Quite the 
contrary perhaps ! I verily believe," she had her mo 
ments of adding, "that, for the amusement of the row, 
you would prefer an explosion." 

This, however, was a remark he seldom noticed ; he 
wound up, for the most part, after a long, contempla 
tive smoke, with a transition from which no exposed 
futility in it had succeeded in weaning him. "What 
I can't for my life make out is your idea of the old 

"Charlotte's too inconceivably funny husband? I 
have no idea." 

"I beg your pardon you've just shown it. You 
never speak of him but as too inconceivably funny." 

"Well, he is," she always confessed. "That is he 
may be, for all I know, too inconceivably great. But 
that's not an idea. It represents only my weak neces 
sity of feeling that he's beyond me which isn't an 
idea either. You see he may be stupid too." 

"Precisely there you are." 

"Yet on the other hand," she always went on, "he 
may be sublime: sublimer even than Maggie herself. 
He may in fact have already been. But we shall never 



know." With which her tone betrayed perhaps a 
shade of soreness for the single exemption she didn't 
yearningly welcome. "That I can see." 

"Oh, I say !" It came to affect the Colonel 

himself with a sense of privation. 

"I'm not sure, even, that Charlotte will." 

"Oh, my dear, what Charlotte doesn't know !" 

But she brooded and brooded. "I'm not sure even 
that the Prince will." It seemed privation, in short, 
for them all. "They'll be mystified, confounded, tor 
mented. But they won't know and all their possible 
putting their heads together won't make them. 
That," said Fanny Assingham, "will be their punish 
ment." And she ended, ever, when she had come so 
far, at the same pitch. "It will probably also if I get 
off with so little be mine." 

"And what," her husband liked to ask, "will be 

"Nothing you're not worthy of any. One's pun 
ishment is in what one feels, and what will make ours 
effective is that we shall feel." She was splendid with 
her "ours" ; she flared up with this prophecy. "It will 
be Maggie herself who will mete it out." 

"Maggie ?" 

"She'll know about her father; everything. 
Everything," she repeated. On the vision of which, 
each time, Mrs. Assingham, as with the presentiment 
of an odd despair, turned away from it. "But she'll 
never tell us." 



IF Maggie had not so firmly made up her mind never 
to say, either to her good friend or to any one else, 
more than she meant about her father, she might have 
found herself betrayed into some such overflow dur 
ing the week spent in London with her husband 
after the others had adjourned to Fawns for the sum 
mer. This was because of the odd element of the 
unnatural imparted to the so simple fact of their brief 
separation by the assumptions resident in their course 
of life hitherto. She was used, herself, certainly, by 
this time, to dealing with odd elements; but she 
dropped, instantly, even from such peace as she had 
patched up, when it was a question of feeling that 
her unpenetrated parent might be alone with them. 
She thought of him as alone with them when she 
thought of him as alone with Charlotte and this, 
strangely enough, even while fixing her sense to the 
full on his wife's power of preserving, quite of en 
hancing, every felicitous appearance. Charlotte had 
done that under immeasurably fewer difficulties 
indeed during the numerous months of their hy 
meneal absence from England, the period prior to 
that wonderful reunion of the couples, in the interest 
of the larger play of all the virtues of each, which 



was now bearing, for Mrs. Verver's stepdaughter at 
least, such remarkable fruit. It was the present so 
much briefer interval, in a situation, possibly in a re 
lation, so changed it was the new terms of her 
problem that would tax Charlotte's art. The Prin 
cess could pull herself up, repeatedly, by remembering 
that the real "relation" between her father and 
his wife was a thing that she knew nothing about 
and that, in strictness, was none of her business; but 
she none the less failed to keep quiet, as she would 
have called it, before the projected image of their 
ostensibly happy isolation. Nothing could have had 
less of the quality of quietude than a certain queer 
wish that fitfully flickered up in her, a wish that 
usurped, perversely, the place of a much more natural 
one. If Charlotte, while she was about it, could only 
have been zvorse! that idea Maggie fell to invoking 
instead of the idea that she might desirably have been 
better. For, exceedingly odd as it was to feel in such 
ways, she believed she mightn't have worried so much 
if she didn't somehow make her stepmother out, 
under the beautiful trees and among the dear old 
gardens, as lavish of fifty kinds of confidence and 
twenty kinds, at least, of gentleness. Gentleness and 
confidence were certainly the right thing, as from 
a charming woman to her husband, but the fine tissue 
of reassurance woven by this lady's hands and flung 
over her companion as a light, muffling veil, formed 
precisely a wrought transparency through which she 
felt her father's eyes continually rest on herself. The 
reach of his gaze came to her straighter from a dis- 



tance; it showed him as still more conscious, down 
there alone, of the suspected, the felt elaboration of 
the process of their not alarming or hurting him. 
She had herself now, for weeks and weeks, and all 
unwinkingly, traced the extension of this pious effort ; 
but her perfect success in giving no sign she did 
herself that credit would have been an achievement 
quite wasted if Mrs. Verver should make with him 
those mistakes of proportion, one set of them too 
abruptly, too incoherently designed to correct another 
set, that she had made with his daughter. However, 
if she had been worse, poor woman, who should say 
that her husband would, to a certainty, have been 

One groped noiselessly among such questions, and 
it was actually not even definite for the Princess that 
her own Amerigo, left alone with her in town, had 
arrived at the golden mean of non-precautionary 
gallantry which would tend, by his calculation, to brush 
private criticism from its last perching-place. The 
truth was, in this connection, that she had different 
sorts of terrors, and there were hours when it came 
to her that these days were a prolonged repetition 
of that night-drive, of weeks before, from the other 
house to their own, when he had tried to charm her, 
by his sovereign personal power, into some collapse 
that would commit her to a repudiation of con 
sistency. She was never alone with him, it was to be 
said, without her having sooner or later to ask herself 
what had already become of her consistency; yet, at 
the same time, so long as she breathed no charge, 



she kept hold of a remnant of appearance that could 
save her from attack. Attack, real attack, from him, 
as he would conduct it, was what she above all 
dreaded; she was so far from sure that under that 
experience she mightn't drop into some depth of 
weakness, mightn't show him some shortest way with 
her that he would know how to use again. Therefore, 
since she had given him, as yet, no moment's pretext 
for pretending to her that she had either lost faith 
or suffered by a feather's weight in happiness, she 
left him, it was easy to reason, with an immense ad 
vantage for all waiting and all tension. She wished 
him, for the present, to "make up" to her for nothing. 
Who could say to what making-up might lead, into 
what consenting or pretending or destroying blind 
ness it might plunge her? She loved him too 
helplessly, still, to dare to open the door, by an inch, 
to his treating her as if either of them had wronged 
the other. Something or somebody and who, at 
this, which of them all? would inevitably, would in 
the gust of momentary selfishness, be sacrificed to 
that; whereas what she intelligently needed was to 
know where she was going. Knowledge, knowledge, 
was a fascination as well as a fear; and a part, pre 
cisely, of the strangeness of this juncture was the 
way her apprehension that he would break out to her 
with some merely general profession was mixed with 
her dire need to forgive him, to reassure him, to 
respond to him, on no ground that she didn't fully 
measure. To do these things it must be clear to her 
what they were for; but to act in that light was, by 
VOL. II 10 145 


the same effect, to learn, horribly, what the other 
things had been. He might tell her only what 
he wanted, only what would work upon her by the 
beauty of his appeal; and the result of the direct ap 
peal of any beauty in him would be her helpless 
submission to his terms. All her temporary safety, 
her hand-to-mouth success, accordingly, was in his 
neither perceiving nor divining this, thanks to such 
means as she could take to prevent him; take, liter 
ally from hour to hour, during these days of more 
unbroken exposure. From hour to hour she fairly 
expected some sign of his having decided on a jump. 
"Ah yes, it has been as you think; I've strayed away, 
I've fancied myself free, given myself in other quan 
tities, with larger generosities, because I thought you 
were different different from what I now see. But 
it was only, only, because I didn't know and you 
must admit that you gave me scarce reason enough. 
Reason enough, I mean, to keep clear of my mistake; 
to which I confess, for which I'll do exquisite pen 
ance, which you can help me now, I too beautifully 
feel, to get completely over." 

That was what, while she watched herself, she po 
tentially heard him bring out; and while she carried 
to an end another day, another sequence and yet an 
other of their hours together, without his producing 
it, she felt herself occupied with him beyond even the 
intensity of surrender. She was keeping her head, 
for a reason, for a cause; and the labour of this de 
tachment, with the labour of her keeping the pitch 
of it down, held them together in the steel hoop of 



an intimacy compared with which artless passion 
would have been but a beating of the air. Her great 
est danger, or at least her greatest motive for care, 
was the obsession of the thought that, if he actually 
did suspect, the fruit of his attention to her couldn't 
help being a sense of the growth of her importance. 
Taking the measure, with him, as she had taken it 
with her father, of the prescribed reach of her 
hypocrisy, she saw how it would have to stretch even 
to her seeking to prove that she was not, all the same, 
important. A single touch from him oh, she should 
know it in case of its coming! any brush of his hand, 
of his lips, of his voice, inspired by recognition of her 
probable interest as distinct from pity for her virtual 
gloom, would hand her over to him bound hand and 
foot. Therefore to be free, to be free to act, other 
than abjectly, for her father, she must conceal from 
him the validity that, like a microscopic insect push 
ing a grain of sand, she was taking on even for herself. 
She could keep it up with a change in sight, but she 
couldn't keep it up for ever; so that, really, one 
extraordinary effect of their week of untempered con 
frontation, which bristled with new marks, was to 
make her reach out, in thought, to their customary 
companions and calculate the kind of relief that re 
joining them would bring. She was learning, almost 
from minute to minute, to be a mistress of shades 
since, always, when there were possibilities enough 
of intimacy, there were also, by that fact, in inter 
course, possibilities of iridescence; but she was 
working against an adversary who was a master of 


shades too, and on whom, if she didn't look out, she 
should presently have imposed a consciousness of the 
nature of their struggle. To feel him in fact, to think 
of his feeling himself, her adversary in things of this 
fineness to see him at all, in short, brave a name 
that would represent him as in opposition was al 
ready to be nearly reduced to a visible smothering 
of her cry of alarm. Should he guess they were hav 
ing, in their so occult manner, a high fight, and that 
it was she, all the while, in her supposed stupidity, 
who had made it high and was keeping it high in 
the event of his doing this before they could leave 
town she should verily be lost. 

The possible respite for her at Fawns' would come 
from the fact that observation, in him, there, would 
inevitably find some of its directness diverted. This 
would be the case if only because the remarkable 
strain of her father's placidity might be thought of 
as likely to claim some larger part of his attention. 
Besides which there would be always Charlotte her 
self to draw him off. Charlotte would help him again, 
doubtless, to study anything, right or left, that might 
be symptomatic; but Maggie could see that this very 
fact might perhaps contribute, in its degree, to pro 
tect the secret of her own fermentation. It is not 
even incredible that she may have discovered the 
gleam of a comfort that was to broaden in the con 
ceivable effect on the Prince's spirit, on his nerves, 
on his finer irritability, of some of the very airs and 
aspects, the light graces themselves, of Mrs. Verver's 
too perfect competence. What it would most come 



to, after all, she said to herself, was a renewal for 
him of the privilege of watching that lady watch her. 
Very well, then : with the elements after all so mixed 
in him, how long would he go on enjoying mere 
spectatorship of that act? For she had by this time 
made up her mind that in Charlotte's company he 
deferred to Charlotte's easier art of mounting guard. 
Wouldn't he get tired to put it only at that of 
seeing her always on the rampart, erect and elegant, 
with her lace-flounced parasol now folded and now 
shouldered, march to and fro against a gold-coloured 
east or west? Maggie had gone far, truly for a 
view of the question of this particular reaction, and 
she was not incapable of pulling herself up with the 
rebuke that she counted her chickens before they 
were hatched. How sure she should have to be of 
so many things before she might thus find a weariness 
in Amerigo's expression and a logic in his weariness! 
One of her dissimulated arts for meeting their 
tension, meanwhile, was to interweave Mrs. Assing- 
ham as plausibly as possible with the undulations of 
their surface, to bring it about that she should join 
them, of an afternoon, when they drove together or 
if they went to look at things looking at things 
being almost as much a feature of their life as if they 
were bazaar-opening royalties. Then there were such 
combinations, later in the day, as her attendance on 
them, and the Colonel's as well, for such whimsical 
matters as visits to the opera no matter who was 
singing, and sudden outbreaks of curiosity about the 
British drama. The good couple from Cadogan 



Place could always unprotestingly dine with them 
and "go on" afterwards to such publicities as the 
Princess cultivated the boldness of now perversely 
preferring. It may be said of her that, during these 
passages, she plucked her sensations by the way, de 
tached, nervously, the small wild blossoms of her dim 
forest, so that she could smile over them at least 
with the spacious appearance, for her companions, 
for her husband above all, of bravely, of altogether 
frivolously, going a-maying. She had her intense, 
her smothered excitements, some of which were 
almost inspirations; she had in particular the extrava 
gant, positively at moments the amused, sense of 
using her friend to the topmost notch, accompanied 
with the high luxury of not having to explain. 
Never, no never, should she have to explain to Fanny 
Assingham again who, poor woman, on her own 
side, would be charged, it might be for ever, with 
that privilege of the higher ingenuity. She put it all 
off on Fanny, and the dear thing herself might hence 
forth appraise the quantity. More and more mag 
nificent now in her blameless egoism, Maggie asked 
no questions of her, and thus only signified the 
greatness of the opportunity she gave her. She 
didn't care for what devotions, what dinners of their 
own the Assinghams might have been "booked"; 
that was a detail, and she could think without wincing 
of the ruptures and rearrangements to which her 
service condemned them. It all fell in beautifully, 
moreover; so that, as hard, at this time, in spite of her 
fever, as a little pointed diamond, the Princess showed 


something of the glitter of consciously possessing the 
constructive, the creative hand. She had but to have 
the fancy of presenting herself, of presenting her hus 
band, in a certain high and convenient manner, to 
make it natural they should go about with their 
gentleman and their lady. To what else but this, 
exactly, had Charlotte, during so many weeks of the 
earlier season, worked her up? herself assuming and 
discharging, so far as might be, the character and 
office of one of those revolving subordinate presences 
that float in the wake of greatness. 

The precedent was therefore established and the 
group normally constituted. Mrs. Assingham, 
meanwhile, at table, on the stairs, in the carriage 
or the opera-box, might with her constant over 
flow of expression, for that matter, and its singularly 
resident character where men in especial were con 
cerned look across at Amerigo in whatever sense 
she liked: it was not of that Maggie proposed to be 
afraid. She might warn him, she might rebuke him, 
she might reassure him, she might if it were impos 
sible not to absolutely make love to him; even this 
was open to her, as a matter simply between them, 
if it would help her to answer for the impeccability 
she had guaranteed. And Maggie desired in fact only 
to strike her as acknowledging the efficacy of her 
aid when she mentioned to her one evening a small 
project for the morrow, privately entertained the 
idea, irresistible, intense, of going to pay, at the 
Museum, a visit to Mr. Crichton. Mr. Crichton, as 
Mrs. Assingham could easily remember, was the most 


accomplished and obliging of public functionaries, 
whom every one knew and who knew every one 
who had from the first, in particular, lent himself 
freely, and for the love of art and history, to becoming 
one of the steadier lights of Mr. Verver's adven 
turous path. The custodian of one of the richest 
departments of the great national collection of 
precious things, he could feel for the sincere private 
collector and urge him on his way even when con 
demned to be present at his capture of trophies 
sacrificed by the country to parliamentary thrift. 
He carried his amiability to the point of saying that, 
since London, under pettifogging views, had to miss, 
from time to time, its rarest opportunities, he was 
almost consoled to see such lost causes invariably 
wander at last, one by one, with the tormenting tinkle 
of their silver bells, into the wondrous, the already 
famous fold beyond the Mississippi. There was a 
charm in his "almosts" that was not to be resisted, 
especially after Mr. Verver and Maggie had grown 
sure or almost, again of enjoying the monopoly 
of them; and on this basis of envy changed to sym 
pathy by the more familiar view of the father and 
the daughter, Mr. Crichton had at both houses, 
though especially in Eaton Square, learned to fill 
out the responsive and suggestive character. It was 
at his invitation, Fanny well recalled, that Maggie, 
one day, long before, and under her own attendance 
precisely, had, for the glory of the name she bore, 
paid a visit to one of the ampler shrines of the 
supreme exhibitory temple, an alcove of shelves 



charged with the gold-and-brown, gold-and-ivory, of 
old Italian bindings and consecrated to the records 
of the Prince's race. It had been an impression that 
penetrated, that remained; yet Maggie had sighed, 
ever so prettily, at its having to be so superficial. She 
was to go back some day, to dive deeper, to linger 
and taste; in spite of which, however, Mrs. Assing- 
ham could not recollect perceiving that the visit had 
been repeated. This second occasion had given way, 
for a long time, in her happy life, to other occasions 
all testifying, in their degree, to the quality of her 
husband's blood, its rich mixture and its many re 
markable references; after which, no doubt, the 
charming piety involved had grown, on still further 
grounds, bewildered and faint. 

It now appeared, none the less, that some renewed 
conversation with Mr. Crichton had breathed on the 
faintness revivingly, and Maggie mentioned her pur 
pose as a conception of her very own, to the success 
of which she designed to devote her morning. Visits 
of gracious ladies, under his protection, lighted up 
rosily, for this perhaps most flower-loving and honey- 
sipping member of the great Bloomsbury hive, its 
packed passages and cells; and though not sworn 
of the province toward which his friend had found 
herself, according to her appeal to him, yearning 
again, nothing was easier for him than to put her 
in relation with the presiding urbanities. So it had 
been settled, Maggie said to Mrs. Assingham, and 
she was to dispense with Amerigo's company. Fanny 
was to remember later on that she had at first taken 



this last fact for one of the finer notes of her young 
woman's detachment, imagined she must be going 
alone because of the shade of irony that, in these 
ambiguous days, her husband's personal presence 
might be felt to confer, practically, on any trib 
ute to his transmitted significance. Then as, the 
next moment, she felt it clear that so much plotted 
freedom was virtually a refinement of reflection, an 
impulse to commemorate afresh whatever might still 
survive of pride and hope, her sense of ambiguity 
happily fell and she congratulated her companion 
on having anything so exquisite to do and on being 
so exquisitely in the humour to do it. After the 
occasion had come and gone she was confirmed in 
her optimism; she made out, in the evening, that the 
hour spent among the projected lights, the annals 
and illustrations, the parchments and portraits, the 
emblazoned volumes and the murmured commentary, 
had been for the Princess enlarging and inspiring. 
Maggie had said to her some days before, very 
sweetly but very firmly, "Invite us to dine, please, 
for Friday, and have any one you like or you can 
it doesn't in the least matter whom;" and the pair 
in Cadogan Place had bent to this mandate with a 
docility not in the least ruffled by all that it took 
for granted. 

It provided for an evening this had been Maggie's 
view; and she lived up to her view, in her friend's eyes, 
by treating the occasion, more or less explicitly, as 
new and strange. The good Assinghams had feasted 



in fact at the two other boards on a scale so dispropor 
tionate to the scant solicitations of their own that it 
was easy to make a joke of seeing how they fed at 
home, how they met, themselves, the question of 
giving to eat. Maggie dined with them, in short, 
and arrived at making her husband appear to dine, 
much in the manner of a pair of young sovereigns 
who have, in the frolic humour of the golden years 
of reigns, proposed themselves to a pair of faithfully- 
serving subjects. She showed an interest in their 
arrangements, an inquiring tenderness almost for 
their economies; so that her hostess not unnaturally, 
as they might have said, put it all down the tone 
and the freedom of which she set the example to 
the effect wrought in her afresh by one of the lessons 
learned, in the morning, at the altar of the past. 
Hadn't she picked it up, from an anecdote or two 
offered again to her attention, that there were, for 
princesses of such a line, more ways than one of being 
a heroine? Maggie's way to-night was to surprise 
them all, truly, by the extravagance of her affability. 
She was doubtless not positively boisterous; yet, 
though Mrs. Assingham, as a bland critic, had never 
doubted her being graceful, she had never seen her 
put so much of it into being what might have 
been called assertive. It was all a tune to which 
Fanny's heart could privately palpitate: her guest 
was happy, happy as a consequence of something 
that had occurred, but she was making the Prince not 
lose a ripple of her laugh, though not perhaps always 



enabling him to find it absolutely not foolish. Fool 
ish, in public, beyond a certain point, he was scarce 
the man to brook his wife's being thought to be; so 
that there hovered before their friend the possibility 
of some subsequent scene between them, in the 
carriage or at home, of slightly sarcastic inquiry, of 
promptly invited explanation; a scene that, accord 
ing as Maggie should play her part in it, might or 
might not precipitate developments. What made 
these appearances practically thrilling, meanwhile, 
was this mystery a mystery, it was clear, to Amer 
igo himself of the incident or the influence that had 
so peculiarly determined them. 

The lady of Cadogan Place was to read deeper, 
however, within three days, and the page was turned 
for her on the eve of her young confidant's leaving 
London. The awaited migration to Fawns was to 
take place on the morrow, and it was known mean 
while to Mrs. Assingham that their party of four 
were to dine that night, at the American Embassy, 
with another and a larger party; so that the elder 
woman had a sense of surprise on receiving from the 
younger, under date of six o'clock, a telegram re 
questing her immediate attendance. "Please come 
to me at once; dress early, if necessary, so that we 
shall have time: the carriage, ordered for us, will take 
you back first." Mrs. Assingham, on quick deliber 
ation, dressed, though not perhaps with full lucidity, 
and by seven o'clock was in Portland Place, where 
her friend, "upstairs" and described to her on her 



arrival as herself engaged in dressing, instantly re 
ceived her. She knew on the spot, poor Fanny, as 
she was afterwards to declare to the Colonel, that her 
feared crisis had popped up as at the touch of a spring, 
that her impossible hour was before her. Her im 
possible hour was the hour of its coming out that 
she had known of old so much more than she had 
ever said; and she had often put it to herself, in ap 
prehension, she tried to think even in preparation, 
that she should recognise the approach of her doom 
by a consciousness akin to that of the blowing open 
of a window on some night of the highest wind and 
the lowest thermometer. It would be all in vain to 
have crouched so long by the fire; the glass would 
have been smashed, the icy air would fill the place. 
If the air in Maggie's room then, on her going up, 
was not, as yet, quite the polar blast she had ex 
pected, it was distinctly, none the less, such an 
atmosphere as they had not hitherto breathed to 
gether. The Princess, she perceived, was completely 
dressed that business was over; it added indeed to 
the effect of her importantly awaiting the assistance 
she had summoned, of her showing a deck cleared, 
so to speak, for action. Her maid had already left 
her, and she presented herself, in the large, clear 
room, where everything was admirable, but where 
nothing was out of place, as, for the first time in her 
life, rather "bedizened." Was it that she had put on 
too many things, overcharged herself with jewels, 
wore in particular more of them than usual, and 



bigger ones, in her hair? a question her visitor 
presently answered by attributing this appearance 
largely to the bright red spot, red as some monstrous 
ruby, that burned in either of her cheeks. These two 
items of her aspect had, promptly enough, their own 
light for Mrs. Assingham, who made out by it that 
nothing more pathetic could be imagined than the 
refuge and disguise her agitation had instinctively 
asked of the arts of dress, multiplied to extravagance, 
almost to incoherence. She had had, visibly, her idea 
that of not betraying herself by inattentions into 
which she had never yet fallen, and she stood 
there circled about and furnished forth, as always, 
in a manner that testified to her perfect little personal 
processes. It had ever been her sign that she was, 
for all occasions, found ready, without loose ends or 
exposed accessories or unrernoved superfluities; a 
suggestion of the swept and garnished, in her whole 
splendid, yet thereby more or less encumbered and 
embroidered setting, that reflected her small still 
passion for order and symmetry, for objects with 
their backs to the walls, and spoke even of some 
probable reference, in her American blood, to dusting 
and polishing New England grandmothers. If her 
apartment was "princely," in the clearness of the 
lingering day, she looked as if she had been carried 
there prepared, all attired and decorated, like some 
holy image in a procession, and left, precisely, to 
show what wonder she could work under pressure. 
Her friend felt how could she not? as the truly 
pious priest might feel when confronted, behind the 



altar, before the festa, with his miraculous Madonna. 
Such an occasion would be grave, in general, with 
all the gravity of what he might look for. But the 
gravity to-night would be of the rarest; what he might 
look for would depend so on what he could give. 



"SOMETHING very strange has happened, and I 
think you ought to know it." 

Maggie spoke this indeed without extravagance, 
yet with the effect of making her guest measure 
anew the force of her appeal. It was their definite 
understanding: whatever Fanny knew Fanny's faith 
would provide for. And she knew, accordingly, at 
the end of five minutes, what the extraordinary, in 
the late occurrence, had consisted of, and how it had 
all come of Maggie's achieved hour, under Mr. Crich- 
ton's protection, at the Museum. He had desired, 
Mr. Crichton, with characteristic kindness, after 
the wonderful show, after offered luncheon at his 
incorporated lodge hard by, to see her safely home; 
especially on his noting, in attending her to the great 
steps, that she had dismissed her carriage; which she 
had done, really, just for the harmless amusement 
of taking her way alone. She had known she should 
find herself, as the consequence of such an hour, in 
a sort of exalted state, under the influence of which 
a walk through the London streets would be exactly 
what would suit her best; an independent ramble, 
impressed, excited, contented, with nothing to mind 
and nobody to talk to, and shop-windows in plenty 



to look at if she liked: a low taste, of the essence, 
it was to be supposed, of her nature, that she had of 
late, for so many reasons, been unable to gratify. 
She had taken her leave, with her thanks she knew 
her way quite enough; it being also sufficiently the 
case that she had even a shy hope of not going too 
straight. To wander a little wild was what would 
truly amuse her; so that, keeping clear of Oxford 
Street and cultivating an impression as of parts she 
didn't know, she had ended with what she had more 
or less had been fancying, an encounter with three or 
four shops an old bookseller's, an old print- 
monger's, a couple of places with dim antiquities in 
the window that were not as so many of the other 
shops, those in Sloane Street, say; a hollow parade 
which had long since ceased to beguile. There had 
remained with her moreover an allusion of Char 
lotte's, of some months before seed dropped into 
her imagination in the form of a casual speech about 
there being in Bloomsbury such "funny little fascinat 
ing" places and even sometimes such unexpected 
finds. There could perhaps have been no stronger 
mark than this sense of well-nigh romantic oppor 
tunity no livelier sign of the impression made on 
her, and always so long retained, so watchfully 
nursed, by any observation of Charlotte's, however 
lightly thrown off. And then she had felt, somehow, 
more at her ease than for months and months before; 
she didn't know why, but her time at the Museum, 
oddly, had done it; it was as if she hadn't come 
into so many noble and beautiful associations, nor 

VOL. II. ir l6l 


secured them also for her boy, secured them even for 
her father, only to see them turn to vanity and doubt, 
turn possibly to something still worse. "I believed 
in him again as much as ever, and I felt how I be 
lieved in him," she said with bright, fixed eyes; "I 
felt it in the streets as I walked along, and it was as 
if that helped me and lifted me up, my being off by 
myself there, not having, for the moment, to wonder 
and watch; having, on the contrary, almost nothing 
on my mind." 

It was so much as if everything would come out 
right that she had fallen to thinking of her father's 
birthday, had given herself this as a reason for trying 
what she could pick up for it. They would keep it 
at Fawns, where they had kept it before since it 
would be the twenty-first of the month; and she 
mightn't have another chance of making sure of 
something to offer him. There was always the im 
possibility, of course, of finding him anything, the 
least bit "good," that he wouldn't already, long ago, 
in his rummagings, have seen himself and only not 
to think a quarter good enough; this, however, was 
an old story, and one could not have had any fun 
with him but for his sweet theory that the individual 
gift, the friendship's offering, was, by a rigorous 
law of nature, a foredoomed aberration, and that 
the more it was so the more it showed, and the more 
one cherished it for showing, how friendly it had 
been. The infirmity of art was the candour of affec 
tion, the grossness of pedigree the refinement of 
sympathy; the ugliest objects, in fact, as a general 



thing, were the bravest, the tenderest mementos, and, 
as such, figured in glass cases apart, worthy doubt 
less of the home, but not worthy of the temple 
dedicated to the grimacing, not to the clear-faced, 
gods. She herself, naturally, through the past years, 
had come to be much represented in those recep 
tacles; against the thick, locked panes of which she 
still liked to flatten her nose, finding in its place, 
each time, everything she had on successive anni 
versaries tried to believe he might pretend, at her sug 
gestion, to be put off with, or at least think curious. 
She was now ready to try it again: they had always, 
with his pleasure in her pretence and her pleasure 
in his, with the funny betrayal of the sacrifice to 
domestic manners on either side, played the game 
so happily. To this end, on her way home, she 
had loitered everywhere; quite too deludedly among 
the old books and the old prints, which had yielded 
nothing to her purpose, but with a strange inconse 
quence in one of the other shops, that of a small anti 
quarian, a queer little foreign man, who had shown 
her a number of things, shown her finally some 
thing that, struck with it as rather a rarity and 
thinking it would, compared to some of her ventures, 
quite superlatively do, she had bought bought 
really, when it came to that, for a price. "It appears 
now it won't do at all," said Maggie, "something 
has happened since that puts it quite out of the 
question. I had only my day of satisfaction in it, 
but I feel, at the same time, as I keep it here before 
me, that I wouldn't have missed it for the world." 



She had talked, from the first of her friend's entrance, 
coherently enough, even with a small quaver that 
overstated her calm; but she held her breath every few 
seconds, as if for deliberation and to prove she didn't 
pant all of which marked for Fanny the depth of 
her commotion: her reference to her thought about 
her father, about her chance to pick up something 
that might divert him, her mention, in fine, of his 
fortitude under presents, having meanwhile, nat 
urally, it should be said, much less an amplitude of 
insistence on the speaker's lips than a power to pro 
duce on the part of the listener herself the prompt 
response and full comprehension of memory and 
sympathy, of old amused observation. The picture 
was filled out by the latter's fond fancy. But Maggie 
was at any rate under arms; she knew what she was 
doing and had already her plan a plan for making, 
for allowing, as yet, "no difference"; in accordance 
with which she would still dine out, and not with 
red eyes, nor convulsed features, nor neglected items 
of appearance, nor anything that would raise a ques 
tion. Yet there was some knowledge that, exactly 
to this support of her not breaking down, she desired, 
she required, possession of; and, with the sinister 
rise and fall of lightning unaccompanied by thunder, 
it played before Mrs. Assingham's eyes that she her 
self should have, at whatever risk or whatever cost, 
to supply her with the stuff of her need. All our 
friend's instinct was to hold off from this till she 
should see what the ground would bear; she would 
take no step nearer unless intelligibly to meet her, 



and, awkward though it might be to hover there only 
pale and distorted, with mere imbecilities of vague 
ness, there was a quality of bald help in the fact of 
not as yet guessing what such an ominous start could 
lead to. She caught, however, after a second's 
thought, at the Princess's allusion to her lost re 

"You mean you were so at your ease on Monday 
the night you dined with us?" 

"I was very happy then," said Maggie. 

"Yes we thought you so gay and so brilliant." 
Fanny felt it feeble, but she went on. "We were so 
glad you were happy." 

Maggie stood a moment, at first only looking at 
her. "You thought me all right, eh?" 

"Surely, dearest; we thought you all right." 

"Well, I daresay it was natural; but in point of fact 
I never was more wrong in my life. For, all the 
while, if you please, this was brewing." 

Mrs. Assingham indulged, as nearly as possible to 
luxury, her vagueness. " 'This' ?" 

"That!" replied the Princess, whose eyes, her com 
panion now saw, had turned to an object on the 
chimney-piece of the room, of which, among so many 
precious objects the Ververs, wherever they might 
be, always revelled peculiarly in matchless old man 
tel-ornaments her visitor had not taken heed. 

"Do you mean the gilt cup?" 

"I mean the gilt cup." 

The piece now recognised by Fanny as new to 
her own vision was a capacious bowl, of old-looking, 



rather strikingly yellow gold, mounted, by a short 
stem, on an ample foot, which held a central position 
above the fire-place, where, to allow it the better to 
show, a clearance had been made of other objects, 
notably of the Louis-Seize clock that accompanied' 
the candelabra. This latter trophy ticked at present 
on the marble slab of a commode that exactly 
matched it in splendour and style. Mrs. Assingham 
took it, the bowl, as a fine thing; but the question 
was obviously not of its intrinsic value, and she kept 
off from it, admiring it at a distance. "But what has 
that to do ?" 

"It has everything. You'll see." With which 
again, however, for the moment, Maggie attached to 
her strange wide eyes. "He knew her before be 
fore I had ever seen him." . 

" 'He' knew ?" But Fanny, while she cast 

about her for the links she missed, could only 
echo it. 

"Amerigo knew Charlotte more than I ever 

Fanny felt then it was stare for stare. "But surely 
you always knew they had met." 

"I didn't understand. I knew too little. Don't 
you see what I mean?" the Princess asked. 

Mrs. Assingham wondered, during these instants, 
how much she even now knew; it had taken a minute 
to perceive how gently she was speaking. With that 
perception of its being no challenge of wrath, no 
heat of the deceived soul, but only a free exposure 
of the completeness of past ignorance, inviting de- 



rision even if it must, the elder woman felt, first, a 
strange, barely credible relief: she drew in, as if it 
had been the warm summer scent of a flower, the 
sweet certainty of not meeting, any way she should 
turn, any consequence of judgment. She shouldn't 
be judged save by herself; which was her own 
wretched business. The next moment, however, at 
all events, she blushed, within, for her immediate 
cowardice: she had thought of herself, thought of 
"getting off," before so much as thinking that is 
of pitifully seeing that she was in presence of an 
appeal that was all an appeal, that utterly accepted 
its necessity. "In a general way, dear child, yes. 
But not a in connexion with what you've been 
telling me." 

"They were intimate, you see. Intimate," said the 

Fanny continued to face her, taking from her 
excited eyes this history, so dim and faint for all 
her anxious emphasis, of the far-away other time. 
"There's always the question of what one con 
siders !" 

"What one considers intimate? Well, I know what 
I consider intimate now. Too intimate," said Mag 
gie, "to let me know anything about it." 

It was quiet yes; but not too quiet for Fanny 
Assingham's capacity to wince. "Only compatible 
with letting me, you mean?" She had asked it after 
a pause, but turning again to the new ornament of 
the chimney and wondering, even while she took 
relief from it, at this gap in her experience. "But 



here are things, my dear, of which my ignorance is 

"They went about together they're known to 
have done it. And I don't mean only before I mean 

"After?" said Fanny Assingham. 

"Before we were married yes; but after we were 

"Ah, I've known nothing about that!" And she 
said it with a braver assurance clutching, with com 
fort, at something that was apparently new to her. 

"That bowl," Maggie went on, "is, so strangely 
too strangely, almost, to believe at this time of day 
the proof. They were together all the while up 
to the very eve of our marriage. Don't you 
remember how just before that she came back, so 
unexpectedly, from America?" 

The question had for Mrs. Assingham and 
whether all consciously or not the oddest pathos 
of simplicity. "Oh yes, dear, of course I remember 
how she came back from America and how she 
stayed with us, and what view one had of it." 

Maggie's eyes still, all the time, pressed and pene 
trated; so that, during a moment, just here, she might 
have given the little flare, have made the little 
pounce, of asking what then "one's" view had been. 
To the small flash of this eruption Fanny stood, for 
her minute, wittingly exposed; but she saw it as 
quickly cease to threaten quite saw the Princess, 
even though in all her pain, refuse, in the interest 
of their strange and exalted bargain, to take advan- 



tage of the opportunity for planting the stab of 
reproach, the opportunity thus coming all of itself. 
She saw her or she believed she saw her look at 
her chance for straight denunciation, look at it and 
then pass it by; and she felt herself, with this fact, 
hushed well-nigh to awe at the lucid higher intention 
that no distress could confound and that no discovery 
since it was, however obscurely, a case of "dis 
covery" could make less needful. These seconds 
were brief they rapidly passed; but they lasted 
long enough to renew our friend's sense of her own 
extraordinary undertaking, the function again im 
posed on her, the answerability again drilled into 
her, by this intensity of intimation. She was re 
minded of the terms on which she was let off her 
quantity of release having made its sufficient show 
in that recall of her relation to Charlotte's old re 
appearance; and deep within the whole impression 
glowed ah, so inspiringly when it came to that! 
her steady view, clear from the first, of the beauty 
of her companion's motive. It was like a fresh sac 
rifice for a larger conquest "Only see me through 
now, do it in the face of this and in spite of it, and 
I leave you a hand of which the freedom isn't to be 
said!" The aggravation of fear or call it, appar 
ently, of knowledge had jumped straight into its 
place as an aggravation above all for her father; the 
effect of this being but to quicken to passion her 
reasons for making his protectedness, or in other 
words the forms of his ignorance, still the law of 
her attitude and the key to her solution. She kept 



as tight hold of these reasons and these forms, in 
her confirmed horror, as the rider of a plunging horse 
grasps his seat with his knees; and she might abso 
lutely have been putting it to her guest that she 
believed she could stay on if they should only "meet" 
nothing more. Though ignorant still of what she 
had definitely met Fanny yearned, within, over her 
spirit; and so, no word about it said, passed, through 
mere pitying eyes, a vow to walk ahead and, at cross 
roads, with a lantern for the darkness and wavings 
away for unadvised traffic, look out for alarms. 
There was accordingly no wait in Maggie's reply. 
"They spent together hours spent at least a morn 
ing the certainty of which has come back to me 
now, but that I didn't dream of it at the time. That 
cup there has turned witness by the most wonder 
ful of chances. That's why, since it has been here, 
I've stood it out for my husband to see; put it where 
it would meet him, almost immediately, if he should 
come into the room. I've wanted it to meet him," 
she went on, "and I've wanted him to meet it, and 
to be myself present at the meeting. But that hasn't 
taken place as yet; often as he has lately been in the 
way of coming to see me here yes, in particular 
lately he hasn't showed to-day." It was with her 
managed quietness, more and more, that she talked 
an achieved coherence that helped her, evidently, 
to hear and to watch herself; there was support, and 
thereby an awful harmony, but which meant a 
further guidance, in the facts she could add together. 
"It's quite as if he had an instinct something that 



has warned him off or made him uneasy. He doesn't 
quite know, naturally, what has happened, but 
guesses, with his beautiful cleverness, that something 
has, and isn't in a hurry to be confronted with it. 
So, in his vague fear, he keeps off." 

"But being meanwhile in the house ?" 

"I've no idea not having seen him to-day, by 
exception, since before luncheon. He spoke to me 
then," the Princess freely explained, "of a ballot, of 
great importance, at a club for somebody, some 
personal friend, I think, who's coming up and is sup 
posed to be in danger. To make an effort for him 
he thought he had better lunch there. You see the 
efforts he can make" for which Maggie found a 
smile that went to her friend's heart. "He's in so 
many ways the kindest of men. But it was hours 

Mrs. Assingham thought. "The more danger then 
of his coming in and finding me here. I don't know, 
you see, what you now consider that you've ascer 
tained; nor anything of the connexion with it of 
that object that you declare so damning." Her eyes 
rested on this odd acquisition and then quitted it, 
went back to it and again turned from it: it was 
inscrutable in its rather stupid elegance, and yet, 
from the moment one had thus appraised it, vivid 
and definite in its domination of the scene. Fanny 
could no more overlook it now than she could have 
overlooked a lighted Christmas-tree; but nervously 
and all in vain she dipped into her mind for some 
floating reminiscence of it. At the same time that 


this attempt left her blank she understood a good 
deal, she even not a little shared, the Prince's mystic 
apprehension. The golden bowl put on, under con 
sideration, a sturdy, a conscious perversity; as a 
"document," somehow, it was ugly, though it might 
have a decorative grace. "His finding me here in 
presence of it might be more flagrantly disagreeable 
for all of us than you intend or than would neces 
sarily help us. And I must take time, truly, to 
understand what it means." 

"You're safe, as far as that goes," Maggie re 
turned; "you may take it from me that he won't 
come in, and that I shall only find him below, waiting 
for me, when I go down to the carriage." 

Fanny Assingham took it from her, took it and 
more. "We're to sit together at the Ambassador's 
then or at least you two are with this new com 
plication thrust up before you, all unexplained; and to 
look at each other with faces that pretend, for the 
ghastly hour, not to be seeing it?" 

Maggie looked at her with a face that might have 
been the one she was preparing. ' 'Unexplained,' 
my dear? Quite the contrary explained: fully, in 
tensely, admirably explained, with nothing really to 
add. My own love" she kept it up "I don't want 
anything more. I've plenty to go upon and to do 
with, as it is." 

Fanny Assingham stood there in her comparative 
darkness, with her links, verily, still missing; but the 
most acceptable effect of this was, singularly, as yet, 
a cold fear of getting nearer the fact. "But when 



you come home ? I mean he'll come up with 

you again. Won't he see it then?" 

On which Maggie gave her, after an instant's 
visible thought, the strangest of slow headshakes. 
"I don't know. Perhaps he'll never see it if it only 
stands there waiting for him. He may never again," 
said the Princess, "come into this room." 

Fanny more deeply wondered. "Never again? 
Oh !" 

"Yes, it may be. How do I know? With this!" 
she quietly went on. 

She had not looked again at the incriminating 
piece, but there was a marvel to her friend in the 
way the little word representing it seemed to express 
and include for her the whole of her situation. "Then 
you intend not to speak to him ?" 

Maggie waited. "To 'speak' ?" 

"Well, about your having it and about what you 
consider that it represents." 

"Oh, I don't know that I shall speak if he doesn't. 
But his keeping away from me because of that 
what will that be but to speak? He can't say or do 
more. It won't be for me to speak," Maggie added 
in a different tone, one of the tones that had already 
so penetrated her guest. "It will be for me to listen." 

Mrs. Assingham turned it over. "Then it all de 
pends on that object that you regard, for your 
reasons, as evidence?" 

"I think I may say that 7 depend on it. I can't," 
said Maggie, "treat it as nothing now." 

Mrs. Assingham, at this, went closer to the cup 


on the chimney quite liking to feel that she did so, 
moreover, without going closer to her companion's 
vision. She looked at the precious thing if precious 
it was found herself in fact eyeing it as if, by her 
dim solicitation, to draw its secret from it rather than 
suffer the imposition of Maggie's knowledge. It was 
brave and rich and firm, with its bold deep hollow; 
and, without this queer torment about it, would, 
thanks to her love of plenty of yellow, figure to her 
as an enviable ornament, a possession really desirable. 
She didn't touch it, but if after a minute she turned 
away from it the reason was, rather oddly and sud 
denly, in her fear of doing so. "Then it all depends 
on the bowl? I mean your future does? For that's 
what it comes to, I judge." 

"What it comes to," Maggie presently returned, 
"is what that thing has put me, so almost miracu 
lously, in the way of learning: how far they had 
originally gone together. If there was so much be 
tween them before, there can't with all the other 
appearances not be a great deal more now." And 
she went on and on; she steadily made her points. 
"If such things were already then between them they 
make all the difference for possible doubt of what 
may have been between them since. If there had 
been nothing before there might be explanations. But 
it makes to-day too much to explain. I mean to 
explain away," she said. 

Fanny Assingham was there to explain away of 
this she was duly conscious; for that at least had been 
true up to now. In the light, however, of Maggie's 



demonstration the quantity, even without her taking 
as yet a more exact measure, might well seem larger 
than ever. Besides Which, with or without exactness, 
the effect of each successive minute in the place was 
to put her more in presence of what Maggie herself 
saw. Maggie herself saw the truth, and that was 
really, while they remained there together, enough 
for Mrs. Assingham's relation to it. There was a 
force in the Princess's mere manner about it that 
made the detail of what she knew a matter of minor 
importance. Fanny had in fact something like a 
momentary shame over her own need of asking for 
this detail. "I don't pretend to repudiate," she said 
after a little, "my own impressions of the different 
times I suppose you speak of; any more," she added, 
"than I can forget what difficulties and, as it constant 
ly seemed to me, what dangers, every course of action 
whatever I should decide upon made for me. I 
tried, I tried hard, to act for the best. And, you 
know," she next pursued, while, at the sound of her 
own statement, a slow courage and even a faint 
warmth of conviction came back to her "and, you 
know, I believe it's what I shall turn out to have 

This produced a minute during which their inter 
change, though quickened and deepened, was that of 
silence only, and the long, charged look; all of which 
found virtual consecration when Maggie at last 
spoke. "I'm sure you tried to act for the best." 

It kept Fanny Assingham again a minute in silence. 
"I never thought, dearest, you weren't an angel." 



Not, however, that this alone was much help! "It 
was up to the very eve, you see," the Princess went 
on "up to within two or three days of our mar 
riage. That, that, you know !" And she broke 

down for strangely smiling. 

"Yes, as I say, it was while she was with me. But 
I didn't know it. That is," said Fanny Assingham, 
"I didn't know of anything in particular." It 
sounded weak that she felt; but she had really her 
point to make. "What I mean is that I don't know, 
for knowledge, now, anything I didn't then. That's 
how I am." She still, however, floundered. "I mean 
it's how I was." 

"But don't they, how you were and how you are," 
Maggie asked, "come practically to the same thing?" 
The elder woman's words had struck her own ear 
as in the tone, now mistimed, of their recent, but 
all too factitious understanding, arrived at in hours 
when, as there was nothing susceptible of proof, there 
was nothing definitely to disprove. The situation 
had changed by well, by whatever there was, by 
the outbreak of the definite; and this could keep 
Maggie at least firm. She was firm enough as she 
pursued. "It was on the whole thing that Amerigo 
married me." With which her eyes had their turn 
again at her damnatory piece. "And it was on that' 
it was on that!" But they came back to her visitor. 
"And it was on it all that father married her." 

Her visitor took it as might be. "They both 
married ah, that you must believe! with the high 
est intentions." 



"Father did certainly!" And then, at the renewal 
of this consciousness, it all rolled over her. "Ah, to 
thrust such things on us, to do them here between us 
and with us, day after day, and in return, in re 
turn ! To do it to him to him, to him!" 

Fanny hesitated. "You mean it's for him you 
most suffer?" And then as the Princess, after a look, 
but turned away, moving about the room which 
made the question somehow seem a blunder "I 
ask," she continued, "because I think everything, 
everything we now speak of, may be for him, really 
may be made for him, quite as if it hadn't been." 

But Maggie had the next moment faced about as 
if without hearing her. "Father did it for me did 
it all and only for me." 

Mrs. Assingham, with a certain promptness, threw 
up her head; but she faltered again before she spoke. 
"Well !" 

It was only an intended word, but Maggie showed 
after an instant that it had reached her. "Do 
you mean that that's the reason, that that's a 
reason ?" 

Fanny at first, however, feeling the response in this, 
didn't say all she meant; she said for the moment 
something else instead. "He did it for you largely 
at least for you. And it was for you that I did, in my 
smaller, interested way well, what I could do. For 
I could do something," she continued; "I thought I 
saw your interest as he himself saw it. And I thought 
I saw Charlotte's. I believed in her." 

"And 7 believed in her," said Maggie. 

VOL. II. ia 177 


Mrs. Assingham waited again; but she presently 
pushed on. "She believed then in herself." 

"Ah?" Maggie murmured. 

Something exquisite, faintly eager, in the prompt 
simplicity of it, supported her friend further. "And 
the Prince believed. His belief was real. Just as he 
believed in himself." 

Maggie spent a minute in taking it from her. "He 
believed in himself?" 

"Just as I too believed in him. For I absolutely 
did, Maggie." To which Fanny then added: "And 
I believe in him yet. I mean," she subjoined "well, 
I mean I do" 

Maggie again took it from her; after which she 
was again, restlessly, set afloat. Then when this had 
come to an end: "And do you believe in Charlotte 

Mrs. Assingham had a demur that she felt she could 
now afford. "We'll talk of Charlotte some other 
day. They both, at any rate, thought themselves 
safe at the time." 

"Then why did they keep from me everything I 
might have known?" 

Her friend bent upon her the mildest eyes. "Why 
did I myself keep it from you?" 

"Oh, you weren't, for honour, obliged." 

"Dearest Maggie," the poor woman broke out on 
this, "you are divine!" 

"They pretended to love me," the Princess went 
on. "And they pretended to love him." 

"And pray what was there that I didn't pretend?" 


"Not, at any rate, to care for me as you cared for 
Amerigo and for Charlotte. They were much more in 
teresting it was perfectly natural. How couldn't 
you like Amerigo?" Maggie continued. 

Mrs. Assingham gave it up. "How couldn't I, 
how couldn't I?" Then, with a fine freedom, she 
went all her way. "How can't I, how can't I?" 

It fixed afresh Maggie's wide eyes on her. "I see 
I see. Well, it's beautiful for you to be able to. 
And of course," she added, "you wanted to help Char 

"Yes" Fanny considered it "I wanted to help 
Charlotte. But I wanted also, you see, to help you 
by not digging up a past that I believed, with 
so much on top of it, solidly buried. I wanted, 
as I still want," she richly declared, "to help every 

It set Maggie once more in movement movement 
which, however, spent itself again with a quick 
emphasis. "Then it's a good deal my fault if every 
thing really began so well?" 

Fanny Assingham met it as she could. "You've 
been only too perfect. You've thought only too 
much " 

But the Princess had already caught at the words. 
"Yes I've thought only too much!" Yet she ap 
peared to continue, for the minute, full of that fault. 
She had it in fact, by this prompted thought, all before 
her. "Of him, dear man, of him /" 

Her friend, able to take in thus directly her vision 
of her father, watched her with a new suspense. That 



way might safety lie it was like a wider chink of 
light. "He believed with a beauty! in Charlotte." 

"Yes, and it was I who had made him believe. I 
didn't mean to, at the time, so much; for I had no 
idea then of what was coming. But I did it, I did it!" 
the Princess declared. 

"With a beauty ah, with a beauty, you too!" Mrs. 
Assingham insisted. 

Maggie, however, was seeing for herself it was 
another matter, "The thing was that he made her 
think it would be so possible." 

Fanny again hesitated. "The Prince made her 
think ?" 

Maggie stared she had meant her father. But 
her vision seemed to spread. "They both made her 
think. She wouldn't have thought without them." 

"Yet Amerigo's good faith," Mrs. Assingham in 
sisted, "was perfect. And there was nothing, all the 
more," she added, "against your father's." 

The remark, however, kept Maggie for a moment 
still. "Nothing perhaps but his knowing that she 

" 'Knew' ?" 

"That he was doing it, so much, for me. To what 
extent," she suddenly asked of her friend, "do you 
think he was aware that she knew?" 

"Ah, who can say what passes between people in 
such a relation? The only thing one can be sure of 
is that he was generous." And Mrs. Assingham con 
clusively smiled. "He doubtless knew as much as 
was right for himself." 



"As much, that is, as was right for her." 

"Yes then as was right for her. The point is," 
Fanny declared, "that, whatever his knowledge, it 
made, all the way it went, for his good faith." 

Maggie continued to gaze, and her friend now 
fairly waited on her successive movements. "Isn't 
the point, very considerably, that his good faith must 
have been his faith in her taking almost as much in 
terest in me as he himself took?" 

Fanny Assingham thought. "He recognised, he 
adopted, your long friendship. But he founded on it 
no selfishness." 

"No," said Maggie with still deeper consideration: 
"he counted her selfishness out almost as he counted 
his own." 

"So you may say." 

"Very well," Maggie went on; "if he had none of 
his own, he invited her, may have expected her, on her 
side, to have as little. And she may only since have 
found that out." 

Mrs. Assingham looked blank. "Since ?" 

"And he may have become aware," Maggie pur 
sued, "that she has found it out. That she has taken 
the measure, since their marriage," she explained, "of 
how much he had asked of her more, say, than she 
had understood at the time. He may have made 
out at last how such a demand was, in the long run, 
to affect her." 

"He may have done many things," Mrs. Assing 
ham responded; "but there's one thing he certainly 
won't have done. He'll never have shown that he 



expected of her a quarter as much as she must have 
understood he was to give." 

"I've often wondered," Maggie mused, "what 
Charlotte really understood. But it's one of the 
things she has never told me." 

"Then as it's one of the things she has never told 
me either, we shall probably never know it; and we 
may regard it as none of our business. There are 
many things," said Mrs. Assingham, "that we shall 
never know." 

Maggie took it in with a long reflection. "Never." 

"But there are others," her friend went on, "that 
stare us in the face and that under whatever dif 
ficulty you may feel you labour may now be 
enough for us. Your father has been extraordi 

It had been as if Maggie were feeling her way; but 
she rallied to this with a rush. "Extraordinary." 

"Magnificent," said Fanny Assingham. 

Her companion held tight to it. "Magnificent." 

"Then he'll do for himself whatever there may be 
to do. What he undertook for you he'll do to the 
end. He didn't undertake it to break down; in what 
quiet, patient, exquisite as he is did he ever break 
down? He had never in his life proposed to himself 
to have failed, and he won't have done it on this 

"Ah, this occasion!" and Maggie's wail showed 
her, of a sudden, thrown back on it. "Am I in the 
least sure that, with everything, he even knows what 
it is? And yet am I in the least sure he doesn't?" 



"If he doesn't then, so much the better. Leave 
him alone." 

"Do you mean give him up?" 

"Leave her," Fanny Assingham went on. "Leave 
her to him." 

Maggie looked at her darkly. "Do you mean leave 
him to her? After this?" 

"After everything. Aren't they, for that matter, 
intimately together now?" 

" 'Intimately' ? How do I know?" 

But Fanny kept it up. "Aren't you and your hus 
band in spite of everything?" 

Maggie's eyes still further, if possible, dilated. "It 
remains to be seen!" 

"If you're not then, where's your faith?" 

"In my husband ?" 

Mrs. Assingham but for an instant hesitated. "In 
your father. It all comes back to that. Rest on it." 

"On his ignorance?" 

Fanny met it again. "On whatever he may offer 
you. Take that." 

"Take it ?" Maggie stared. 

Mrs. Assingham held up her head. "And be grate 
ful." On which, for a minute, she let the Princess 
face her. "Do you see?" 

"I see," said Maggie at last. 

"Then there you are." But Maggie had turned 
away, moving to the window, as if still to keep some 
thing in her face from sight. She stood there with 
her eyes on the street while Mrs. Assingham's re 
verted to that complicating object on the chimney 



as to which her condition, so oddly even to herself, 
was that both of recurrent wonder and recurrent pro 
test. She went over it, looked at it afresh and yielded 
now to her impulse to feel it in her hands. She laid 
them on it, lifting it up, and was surprised, thus, with 
the weight of it she had seldom handled so much 
massive gold. That effect itself somehow prompted 
her to further freedom and presently to saying: "I 
don't believe in this, you know." 

It brought Maggie round to her. "Don't believe 
in it? You will when I tell you." 

"Ah, tell me nothing! I won't have it," said Mrs. 
Assingham. She kept the cup in her hand, held it 
there in a manner that gave Maggie's attention to 
her, she saw the next moment, a quality of excited 
suspense. This suggested to her, oddly, that she 
had, with the liberty she was taking, an air of inten 
tion, and the impression betrayed by her companion's 
eyes grew more distinct in a word of warning. "It's 
of value, but its value's impaired, I've learned, by a 

"A crack? in the gold ?" 

"It isn't gold." With which, somewhat strangely, 
Maggie smiled. "That's the point." 

"What is it then?" 

"It's glass and cracked, under the gilt, as I say, 
at that." 

-Glass? of this weight?" 

"Well," said Maggie, "it's crystal and was once, 
I suppose, precious. But what," she then asked, "do 
you mean to do with it?" 



She had come away from her window, one of the 
three by which the wide room, enjoying an advan 
tageous "back," commanded the western sky and 
caught a glimpse of the evening flush; while Mrs. 
Assingham, possessed of the bowl, and possessed too 
of this indication of a flaw, approached another for 
the benefit of the slowly-fading light. Here, thumb 
ing the singular piece, weighing it, turning it over, 
and growing suddenly more conscious, above all, of 
an irresistible impulse, she presently spoke again. "A 
crack? Then your whole idea has a crack." 

Maggie, by this time at some distance from her, 
waited a moment. "If you mean by my idea the 
knowledge that has come to me that " 

But Fanny, with decision, had already taken her 
up. "There's only one knowledge that concerns us 
one fact with which we can have anything to do." 

"Which one, then?" 

"The fact that your husband has never, never, 

never !" But the very gravity of this statement, 

while she raised her eyes to her friend across the 
room, made her for an instant hang fire. 

"Well, never what?" 

"Never been half so interested in you as now. 
But don't you, my dear, really feel it?" 

Maggie considered. "Oh, I think what I've told 
you helps me to feel it. His having to-day given up 
even his forms; his keeping away from me; his not 
having come." And she shook her head as against 
all easy glosses. "It is because of that, you know." 

"Well then, if it's because of this !" And 



Fanny Assingham, who had been casting about her 
and whose inspiration decidedly had come, raised the 
cup in her two hands, raised it positively above her 
head, and from under it, solemnly, smiled at the Prin 
cess as a signal of intention. So for an instant, full of 
her thought and of her act, she held the precious ves 
sel, and then, with due note taken of the margin of the 
polished floor, bare, fine and hard in the embrasure 
of her window, she dashed it boldly to the ground, 
where she had the thrill of seeing it, with the violence 
of the crash, lie shattered. She had flushed with 
the force of her effort, as Maggie had flushed with 
wonder at the sight, and this high reflection in their 
faces was all that passed between them for a minute 
more. After which, "Whatever you meant by it 
and I don't want to know now has ceased to exist," 
Mrs. Assingham said. 

"And what in the world, my dear, did you mean 
by it?" that sound, as at the touch of a spring, rang 
out as the first effect of Fanny's speech. It broke 
upon the two women's absorption with a sharpness 
almost equal to the smash of the crystal, for the door 
of the room had been opened by the Prince without 
their taking heed. He had apparently had time, 
moreover, to catch the conclusion of Fanny's act; 
his eyes attached themselves, through the large 
space allowing just there, as happened, a free view, 
to the shining fragments at this lady's feet. His 
question had been addressed to his wife, but he 
moved his eyes immediately afterwards to those of 
her visitor, whose own then held them in a manner 



of which neither party had been capable, doubtless, 
for mute penetration, since the hour spent by him 
in Cadogan Place on the eve of his marriage and 
the afternoon of Charlotte's reappearance. Some 
thing now again became possible for these 
communicants, under the intensity of their pressure, 
something that took up that tale and that might 
have been a redemption of pledges then exchanged. 
This rapid play of suppressed appeal and disguised 
response lasted indeed long enough for more results 
than one long enough for Mrs. Assingham to 
measure the feat of quick self-recovery, possibly 
therefore of recognition still more immediate, accom 
panying Amerigo's vision and estimate of the 
evidence with which she had been so admirably, 
she felt as she looked at him inspired to deal. She 
looked at him and looked at him there were so 
many things she wanted, on the spot, to say. But 
Maggie was looking too and was moreover looking 
at them both; so that these things, for the elder 
woman, quickly enough reduced themselves to one. 
She met his question not too late, since, in their 
silence, it had remained in the air. Gathering her 
self to go, leaving the golden bowl split into three 
pieces on the ground, she simply referred him to his 
wife. She should see them later, they would all meet 
soon again; and meanwhile, as to what Maggie had 
meant she said, in her turn, from the door why, 
Maggie herself was doubtless by this time ready to 
tell him. 



LEFT with her husband, Maggie, however, for the 
time, said nothing ; she only felt, on the spot, a strong, 
sharp wish not to see his face again till he should have 
had a minute to arrange it. She had seen it enough 
for her temporary clearness and her next movement 
seen it as it showed during the stare of surprise that 
followed his entrance. Then it was that she knew how 
hugely expert she had been made, for judging it 
quickly, by that vision of it, indelibly registered for 
reference, that had flashed a light into her troubled 
soul the night of his late return from Matcham. The 
expression worn by it at that juncture, for however 
few instants, had given her a sense of its possibilities, 
one of the most relevant of which might have been 
playing up for her, before the consummation of Fanny 
Assingham's retreat, just long enough to be recog 
nised. What she had recognised in it was his recog 
nition, the result of his having been forced, by the flush 
of their visitor's attitude and the unextinguished re 
port of her words, to take account of the flagrant signs 
of the accident, of the incident, on which he had unex 
pectedly dropped. He had, not unnaturally, failed to 
see this occurrence represented by the three fragments 
of an object apparently valuable which lay there on 

1 88 


the floor and which, even across the width of the room, 
his kept interval, reminded him, unmistakably though 
confusedly, of something known, some other unforgot- 
ten image. That was a mere shock, that was a pain 
as if Fanny's violence had been a violence redoubled 
and acting beyond its intention, a violence calling up 
the hot blood as a blow across the mouth might have 
called it. Maggie knew as she turned away from him 
that she didn't want his pain; what she wanted was 
her own simple certainty not the red mark of con 
viction flaming there in his beauty. If she could have 
gone on with bandaged eyes she would have liked that 
best; if it were a question of saying what she now, 
apparently, should have to, and of taking from him 
what he would say, any blindness that might wrap it 
would be the nearest approach to a boon. 

She went in silence to where her friend never, in 
intention, visibly, so much her friend as at that moment 
had braced herself to so amazing an energy, and 
there, under Amerigo's eyes, she picked up the shining 
pieces. Bedizened and jewelled, in her rustling 
finery, she paid, with humility of attitude, this prompt 
tribute to order only to find, however, that she could 
carry but two of the fragments at once. She brought 
them over to the chimney-piece, to the conspicuous 
place occupied by the cup before Fanny's appropriation 
of it, and, after laying them carefully down, went back 
for what remained, the solid detached foot. With this 
she returned to the mantel-shelf, placing it with delib 
eration in the centre and then, for a minute, occupy 
ing herself as with the attempt to fit the other morsels 



together. The split, determined by the latent crack, 
was so sharp and so neat that if there had been any 
thing to hold them the bowl might still, quite beauti 
fully, a few steps away, have passed for uninjured. 
But, as there was, naturally, nothing to hold them but 
Maggie's hands, during the few moments the latter 
were so employed, she could only lay the almost equal 
parts of the vessel carefully beside their pedestal and 
leave them thus before her husband's eyes. She had 
proceeded without words, but quite as if with a sought 
effect in spite of which it had all seemed to her to 
take a far longer time than anything she had ever so 
quickly accomplished. Amerigo said nothing either 
though it was true that his silence had the gloss of the 
warning she doubtless appeared to admonish him to 
take : it was as if her manner hushed him to the proper 
observation of what she was doing. He should have 
no doubt of it whatever : she knew, and her broken 
bowl was proof that she knew yet the least part of 
her desire was to make him waste words. He would 
have to think this she knew even better still ; and all 
she was for the present concerned with was that he 
should be aware. She had taken him for aware all 
day, or at least for obscurely and instinctively anxious 
as to that she had just committed herself to Fanny 
Assingham ; but what she had been wrong about was 
the effect of his anxiety. His fear of staying away, 
as a marked symptom, had at least proved greater than 
his fear of coming in ; he had come in even at the risk 
of bringing it with him and, ah, what more did she 
require now than her sense, established within the first 



minute or two, that he had brought it, however he 
might be steadying himself against dangers of betrayal 
by some wrong word, and that it was shut in there 
between them, the successive moments throbbing under 
it the while as the pulse of fever throbs under the 
doctor's thumb? 

Maggie's sense, in fine, in his presence, was that 
though the bowl had been broken, her reason hadn't; 
the reason for which she had made up her mind, the 
reason for which she had summoned her friend, the 
reason for which she had prepared the place for her 
husband's eyes; it was all one reason, and, as her in 
tense little clutch held the matter, what had happened 
by Fanny's act and by his apprehension of it had not in 
the least happened to her, but absolutely and directly 
to himself, as he must proceed to take in. There it was 
that her wish for time interposed time for Amerigo's 
use, not for hers, since she, for ever so long now, for 
hours and hours as they seemed, had been living with 
eternity; with which she would continue to live. She 
wanted to say to him "Take it, take it, take all you 
need of it ; arrange yourself so as to suffer least, or to 
be, at any rate, least distorted and disfigured. Only 
see, see that 7 see, and make up your mind, on this new 
basis, at your convenience. Wait it won't be long 
till you can confer again with Charlotte, for you'll do 
it much better then more easily to both of us. Above 
all don't show me, till you've got it well under, the 
dreadful blur, the ravage of suspense and embarrass 
ment, produced, and produced by my doing, in your 
personal serenity, your incomparable superiority." 

191 - 


After she had squared again her little objects on the 
chimney, she was within an ace, in fact, of turning on 
him with that appeal ; besides its being lucid for her, all 
the while, that the occasion was passing, that they were 
dining out, that he wasn't dressed, and that, though 
she herself was, she was yet, in all probability, so hor 
ribly red in the face and so awry, in many ways, with 
agitation, that in view of the Ambassador's company, 
of possible comments and constructions, she should 
need, before her glass, some restoration of appearances. 
Amerigo, meanwhile, after all, could clearly make 
the most of her having enjoined on him to wait sug 
gested it by the positive pomp of her dealings with the 
smashed cup ; to wait, that is, till she should pronounce 
as Mrs. Assingham had promised for her. This de 
lay, again, certainly tested her presence of mind 
though that strain was not what presently made her 
speak. Keep her eyes, for the time, from her hus 
band's as she might, she soon found herself much more 
drivingly conscious of the strain on his own wit. 
There was even a minute, when her back was turned 
to him, during which she knew once more the strange 
ness of her desire to spare him, a strangeness that had 
already, fifty times, brushed her, in the depth of her 
trouble, as with the wild wing of some bird of the 
air who might blindly have swooped for an instant 
into the shaft of a well, darkening there by his momen 
tary flutter the far-off round of sky. It was extraor 
dinary, this quality in the taste of her wrong which 
made her completed sense of it seem rather to soften 
than to harden and it was the more extraordinary the 



more she had to recognise it ; for what it came to was 
that seeing herself finally sure, knowing everything, 
having the fact, in all its abomination, so utterly before 
her that there was nothing else to add what it came 
to was that, merely by being with him there in silence, 
she felt, within her, the sudden split between convic 
tion and action. They had begun to cease, on the spot, 
surprisingly, to be connected; conviction, that is, 
budged no inch, only planting its feet the more firmly 
in the soil but action began to hover like some lighter 
and larger, but easier form, excited by its very power 
to keep above ground. It would be free, it would be 
independent, it would go in wouldn't it? for some 
prodigious and superior adventure of its own. What 
would condemn it, so to speak, to the responsibility of 
freedom this glimmered on Maggie even now was 
the possibility, richer with every lapsing moment, that 
her husband would have, on the whole question, a new 
need of her, a need which was in fact being born 
between them in these very seconds. It struck her 
truly as so new that he would have felt hitherto none 
to compare with it at all ; would indeed, absolutely, by 
this circumstance, be really needing her for the first 
time in their whole connection. No, he had used her, 
he had even exceedingly enjoyed her, before this; but 
there had been no precedent for that character of a 
proved necessity to him which she was rapidly taking 
on. The immense advantage of this particular clue, 
moreover, was that she should have now to arrange, 
to alter, to falsify nothing ; should have to be but con 
sistently simple and straight. She asked herself, with 
VOL. II. 13 193 


concentration, while her back was still presented, what 
would be the very ideal of that method; after which, 
the next instant,, it had all come to her and she had 
turned round upon him for the application. "Fanny 
Assingham broke it knowing it had a crack and that 
it would go if she used sufficient force. She thought, 
when I had told her, that that would be the best thing 
to do with it thought so from her own point of view. 
That hadn't been at all my idea, but she acted before I 
understood. I had, on the contrary," she explained, 
"put it here, in full view, exactly that you might 
see it." 

He stood with his hands in his pockets ; he had car 
ried his eyes to the fragments on the chimney-piece, 
and she could already distinguish the element of relief, 
absolutely of succour, in his acceptance from her of the 
opportunity to consider the fruits of their friend's vio 
lence every added inch of reflection and delay having 
the advantage, from this point on, of counting for him 
double. It had operated within her now to the last 
intensity, her glimpse of the precious truth that by 
her helping him, helping him to help himself, as it 
were, she should help him to help her. Hadn't she 
fairly got into his labyrinth with him? wasn't she 
indeed in the very act of placing herself there, for him, 
at its centre and core, whence, on that definite orien 
tation and by an instinct all her own, she might 
securely guide him out of it? She offered him thus, 
assuredly, a kind of support that was not to have been 
imagined in advance, and that moreover required 
ah most truly! some close looking at before it could 



be believed in and pronounced void of treachery. 
"Yes, look, look," she seemed to see him hear her say 
even while her sounded words were other "look, look, 
both at the truth that still survives in that smashed 
evidence and at the even more remarkable appearance 
that I'm not such a fool as you supposed me. Look 
at the possibility that, since I am different, there may 
still be something in it for you if you're capable of 
working with me to get that out. Consider of course, 
as you must, the question of what you may have to 
surrender, on your side, what price you may have to 
pay, whom you may have to pay with, to set this ad 
vantage free; but take in, at any rate, that there is 
something for you if you don't too blindly spoil your 
chance for it." He went no nearer the damnatory 
pieces, but he eyed them, from where he stood, with a 
degree of recognition just visibly less to be dissimu 
lated ; all of which represented for her a certain trace 
able process. And her uttered words, meanwhile, 
were different enough from those he might have in 
serted between the lines of her already-spoken. "It's 
the golden bowl, you know, that you saw at the little 
antiquario's in Bloomsbury, so long ago when you 
went there with Charlotte, when you spent those hours 
with her, unknown to me, a day or two before our mar 
riage. It was shown you both, but you didn't take it ; 
you left it for me, and I came upon it, extraordinarily, 
through happening to go into the same shop on Mon 
day last; in walking home, in prowling about to pick 
up some small old thing for father's birthday, after my 
visit to the Museum, my appointment there with Mr. 



Crichton, of which I told you. It was shown me, and 
I was struck with it and took it knowing nothing 
about it at the time. What I now know I've learned 
since I learned this afternoon, a couple of hours ago ; 
receiving from it naturally a great impression. So 
there it is in its three pieces. You can handle them 
don't be afraid if you want to make sure the thing 
is the thing you and Charlotte saw together. Its hav 
ing come apart makes an unfortunate difference for its 
beauty, its artistic value, but none for anything else. 
Its other value is just the same I mean that of its 
having given me so much of the truth about you. I 
don't therefore so much care what becomes of it now 
unless perhaps you may yourself, when you come to 
think, have some good use for it. In that case," Mag 
gie wound up, "we can easily take the pieces with us 
to Fawns." 

It was wonderful how she felt, by the time she had 
seen herself through this narrow pass, that she had 
really achieved something that she was emerging a 
little, in fine, with the prospect less contracted. She 
had done for him, that is, what her instinct enjoined; 
had laid a basis not merely momentary on which he 
could meet her. When, by the turn of his head, he did 
finally meet her, this was the last thing that glimmered 
out of his look ; but it came into sight, none the less, as 
a perception of his distress and almost as a question of 
his eyes; so that, for still another minute, before he 
committed himself, there occurred between them a kind 
of unprecedented moral exchange over which her 
superior lucidity presided. It was not, however, that 



when he did commit himself the show was promptly 
portentous. "But what in the world has Fanny As- 
singham had to do with it?" 

She could verily, out of all her smothered soreness, 
almost have smiled : his question so affected her as giv 
ing the whole thing up to her. But it left her only to 
go the straighten "She has had to do with it that I 
immediately sent for her and that she immediately 
came. She was the first person I wanted to see 
because I knew she would know. Know more about 
what I had learned, I mean, than I could make out for 
myself. I made out as much as I could for myself 
that I also wanted to have done ; but it didn't, in spite 
of everything, take me very far, and she has really 
been a help. Not so much as she would like to be 
not so much as, poor dear, she just now tried to be; 
yet she has done her very best for you never forget 
that! and has kept me along immeasurably better 
than I should have been able to come without her. 
She has gained me time ; and that, these three months, 
don't you see? has been everything." 

She had said "Don't you see?" on purpose, and was 
to feel the next moment that it had acted. " 'These 
three months' ?" the Prince asked. 

"Counting from the night you came home so late 
from Matcham. Counting from the hours you spent 
with Charlotte at Gloucester; your visit to the cathe 
dral which you won't have forgotten describing to 
me in so much detail. For that was the beginning of 
my being sure. Before it I had been sufficiently in 
doubt. Sure," Maggie developed, "of your having, 



and of your having for a long time had, two relations 
with Charlotte." 

He stared, a little at sea, as he took it up. 
"Two ?" 

Something in the tone of it gave it a sense, or an 
ambiguity, almost foolish leaving Maggie to feel, as 
in a flash, how such a consequence, a foredoomed in 
felicity, partaking of the ridiculous even in one of the 
cleverest, might be of the very essence of the penalty 
of wrong-doing. "Oh, you may have had fifty had 
the same relation with her fifty times! It's of the 
number of kinds of relation with her that I speak a 
number that doesn't matter, really, so long as there 
wasn't only one kind, as father and I supposed. One 
kind," she went on, "was there before us; we took 
that fully for granted, as you saw, and accepted it. 
We never thought of there being another, kept out of 
our sight. But after the evening I speak of I knew 
there was something else. As I say, I had, before that, 
my idea which you never dreamed I had. From the 
moment I speak of it had more to go upon, and you 
became yourselves, you and she, vaguely, yet uneasily, 
conscious of the difference. But it's within these last 
hours that I've most seen where we are; and as I've 
been in communication with Fanny Assingham about 
my doubts, so I wanted to let her know my certainty 
with the determination of which, however, you must 
understand, she has had nothing to do. She defends 
you," Maggie remarked. 

He had given her all his attention, and with this im 
pression for her, again, that he was, in essence, fairly 



reaching out to her for time time, only time she 
could sufficiently imagine, and to whatever strange 
ness, that he absolutely liked her to talk, even at the 
cost of his losing almost everything else by it. It was 
still, for a minute, as if he waited for something worse ; 
wanted everything that was in her to come out, any 
definite fact, anything more precisely nameable, so that 
he too as was his right should know where he was. 
What stirred in him above all, while he followed in her 
face the clear train of her speech, must have been the 
impulse to take up something she put before him that 
he was yet afraid directly to touch. He wanted to 
make free with it, but had to keep his hands off for 
reasons he had already made out; and the discomfort 
of his privation yearned at her out of his eyes with an 
announcing gleam of the fever, the none too tolerable 
chill, of specific recognition. She affected him as 
speaking more or less for her father as well, and his 
eyes might have been trying to hypnotise her into giv 
ing him the answer without his asking the question. 
"Had he his idea, and has he now, with you, anything 
more?" those were the words he had to hold himself 
from not speaking and that she would as yet, certainly, 
do nothing to make easy. She felt with her sharpest 
thrill how he was straitened and tied, and with the mis 
erable pity of it her present conscious purpose of keep 
ing him so could none the less perfectly accord. To 
name her father, on any such basis of anxiety, of com 
punction, would be to do the impossible thing, to do 
neither more nor less than give Charlotte away. Vis 
ibly, palpably, traceably, he stood off from this, moved 



back from it as from an open chasm now suddenly per 
ceived, but which had been, between the two, with so 
much, so strangely much else, quite uncalculated. 
Verily it towered before her, this history of their con 
fidence. They had built strong and piled high based 
as it was on such appearances their conviction that, 
thanks to her native complacencies of so many sorts, 
she would always, quite to the end and through and 
through, take them as nobly sparing her. Amerigo 
was at any rate having the sensation of a particular 
ugliness to avoid, a particular difficulty to count with, 
that practically found him as unprepared as if he had 
been, like his wife, an abjectly simple person. And 
she meanwhile, however abjectly simple, was further 
discerning, for herself, that, whatever he might have 
to take from her she being, on her side, beautifully 
free he would absolutely not be able, for any qualify 
ing purpose, to name Charlotte either. As his father- 
in-law's wife Mrs. Verver rose between them there, for 
the time, in august and prohibitive form; to protect 
her, defend her, explain about her, was, at the least, 
to bring her into the question which would be by the 
same stroke to bring her husband. But this was ex 
actly the door Maggie wouldn't open to him ; on all of 
which she was the next moment asking herself if, thus 
warned and embarrassed, he were not fairly writhing 
in his pain. He writhed, on that hypothesis, some 
seconds more, for it was not till then that he had 
chosen between what he could do and what he 

"You're apparently drawing immense conclusions 


from very small matters. Won't you perhaps feel, in 
fairness, that you're striking out, triumphing, or what 
ever I may call it, rather too easily feel it when I 
perfectly admit that your smashed cup there does come 
back to me? I frankly confess, now, to the occasion, 
and to having wished not to speak of it to you at the 
time. We took two or three hours together, by ar 
rangement; it was on the eve of my marriage at the 
moment you say. But that put it on the eve of yours 
too, my dear which was directly the point. It was 
desired to find for you, at the eleventh hour, some 
small wedding-present a hunt, for something worth 
giving you, and yet possible from other points of view 
as well, in which it seemed I could be of use. You 
were naturally not to be told precisely because it was 
all for you. We went forth together and we looked ; 
we rummaged about and, as I remember we called it, 
we prowled ; then it was that, as I freely recognise, we 
came across that crystal cup which I'm bound to say, 
upon my honour, I think it rather a pity Fanny Assing- 
ham, from whatever good motive, should have treated 
so." He had kept his hands in his pockets; he 
turned his eyes again, but more complacently now, to 
the ruins of the precious vessel ; and Maggie could feel 
him exhale into the achieved quietness of his explana 
tion a long, deep breath of comparative relief. Behind 
everything, beneath everything, it was somehow a 
comfort to him at last to be talking with her and 
he seemed to be proving to himself that he could talk. 
"It was at a little shop in Bloomsbury I think I could 
go to the place now. The man understood Italian, I 



remember; he wanted awfully to work off his bowl. 
But I didn't believe in it, and we didn't take it." 

Maggie had listened with an interest that wore all 
the expression of candour. "Oh, you left it for me. 
But what did you take?" 

He looked at her; first as if he were trying to re 
member, then as if he might have been trying to for 
get. "Nothing, I think at that place." 

"What did you take then at any other? What did 
you get me since that was your aim and end for a 

The Prince continued very nobly to bethink himself. 
"Didn't we get you anything?" 

Maggie waited a little ; she had for some time, now, 
kept her eyes on him steadily; but they wandered, at 
this, to the fragments on her chimney. "Yes; it 
comes round, after all, to your having got me the bowl. 
I myself was to come upon it, the other day, by so 
wonderful a chance; was to find it in the same place 
and to have it pressed upon me by the same little man, 
who does, as you say, understand Italian. I did 
'believe in it/ you see must have believed in it some 
how instinctively; for I took it as soon as I saw it. 
Though I didn't know at all then," she added, "what 
I was taking with it." 

The Prince paid her for an instant, visibly, the def 
erence of trying to imagine what this might have been. 
"I agree with you that the coincidence is extraordinary 
the sort of thing that happens mainly in novels and 
plays. But I don't see, you must let me say, the im 
portance or the connexion " 



"Of my having made the purchase where you failed 
of it?" She had quickly taken him up; but she had, 
with her eyes on him once more, another drop into the 
order of her thoughts, to which, through whatever he 
might say, she was still adhering. "It's not my hav 
ing gone into the place, at the end of four years, that 
makes the strangeness of the coincidence; for don't 
such chances as that, in London, easily occur? The 
strangeness," she lucidly said, "is in what my purchase 
was to represent to me after I had got it home ; which 
value came," she explained, "from the wonder of my 
having found such a friend." 

" 'Such a friend' ?" As a wonder, assuredly, her 
husband could but take it. 

"As the little man in the shop. He did for me more 
than he knew I owe it to him. He took an interest 
in me," Maggie said ; "and, taking that interest, he re 
called your visit, he remembered you and spoke of you 
to me." 

On which the Prince passed the comment of a scep 
tical smile. "Ah but, my dear, if extraordinary things 
come from people's taking an interest in you " 

"My life in that case," she asked, "must be very agi 
tated? Well, he liked me, I mean very particularly. 
It's only so I can account for my afterwards hearing 
from him and in fact he gave me that to-day," she 
pursued, "he gave me it frankly as his reason." 

"To-day?" the Prince inquiringly echoed. 

But she was singularly able it had been marvel 
lously "given" her, she afterwards said to herself 
to abide, for her light, for her clue, by her own order. 



"I inspired him with sympathy there you are! But 
the miracle is that he should have a sympathy to offer 
that could be of use to me. That was really the oddity 
of my chance," the Princess proceeded "that I should 
have been moved, in my ignorance, to go precisely to 

He saw her so keep her course that it was as if he 
could, at the best, but stand aside to watch her and let 
her pass; he only made a vague demonstration that 
was like an ineffective gesture. "I'm sorry to say any 
ill of your friends, and the thing was a long time ago ; 
besides which there was nothing to make me recur to 
it. But I remember the man's striking me as a de 
cided little beast." 

She gave a slow headshake as if, no, after consid 
eration, not that way were an issue. "I can only think 
of him as kind, for he had nothing to gain. He had 
in fact only to lose. It was what he came to tell me 
that he had asked me too high a price, more than the 
object was really worth. There was a particular rea 
son, which he hadn't mentioned, and which had made 
him consider and repent. He wrote for leave to see 
me again wrote in such terms that I saw him here 
this afternoon." 

"Here?" it made the Prince look about him. 

"Downstairs in the little red room. While he 
was waiting he looked at the few photographs that 
stand about there and recognised two of them. 
Though it was so long ago, he remembered the visit 
made him by the lady and the gentleman, and that gave 
him his connexion. It gave me mine, for he remem- 



bered everything and told me everything. You see 
you too had produced your effect ; only, unlike you, he 
had thought of it again he had recurred to it. He 
told me of your having wished to make each other 
presents but of that's not having come off. The lady 
was greatly taken with the piece I had bought of him, 
but you had your reason against receiving it from her, 
and you had been right. He would think that of you 
more than ever now," Maggie went on ; "he would see 
how wisely you had guessed the flaw and how easily 
the bowl could be broken. I had bought it myself, you 
see, for a present he knew I was doing that. This 
was what had worked in him especially after the 
price I had paid." 

Her story had dropped an instant; she still brought 
it out in small waves of energy, each of which spent 
its force; so that he had an opportunity to speak be 
fore this force was renewed. But the quaint thing 
was what he now said. "And what, pray, was the 

She paused again a little. "It was high, certainly 
for those fragments. I think I feel, as I look at 
them there, rather ashamed to say." 

The Prince then again looked at them; he might 
have been growing used to the sight. "But shall you 
at least get your money back?" 

"Oh, I'm far from wanting it back I feel so that 
I'm getting its worth." With which, before he could 
reply, she had a quick transition. "The great fact 
about the day we're talking of seems to me to have 
been, quite remarkably, that no present was then made 



me. If your undertaking had been for that, that was 
not at least what came of it." 

"You received then nothing at all?" The Prince 
looked vague and grave, almost retrospectively con 

"Nothing but an apology for empty hands and 
empty pockets ; which was made me as if it mattered 
a mite! ever so frankly, ever so beautifully and 

This Amerigo heard with interest, yet not with con 
fusion. "Ah, of course you couldn't have minded!" 
Distinctly, as she went on, he was getting the better of 
the mere awkwardness of his arrest; quite as if mak 
ing out that he need suffer arrest from her now 
before they should go forth to show themselves in the 
world together in no greater quantity than an occa 
sion ill-chosen at the best for a scene might decently 
make room for. He looked at his watch; their en 
gagement, all the while, remained before him. "But 
I don't make out, you see, what case against me you 
rest " 

"On everything I'm telling you? Why, the whole 
case the case of your having for so long so success 
fully deceived me. The idea of your finding some 
thing for me charming as that would have been 
was what had least to do with your taking a morning 
together at that moment. What had really to do with 
it," said Maggie, "was that you had to : you couldn't 
not, from the moment you were again face to face. 
And the reason of that was that there had been so much 
between you before before / came between you at all." 



Her husband had been for these last moments mov 
ing about under her eyes ; but at this, as to check any 
show of impatience, he again stood still. "You've 
never been more sacred to me than you were at that 
hour unless perhaps you've become so at this one." 

The assurance of his speech, she could note, quite 
held up its head in him; his eyes met her own so, for 
the declaration, that it was as if something cold and 
momentarily unimaginable breathed upon her, from 
afar off, out of his strange consistency. She kept her 
direction still, however, under that. "Oh, the thing 
I've known best of all is that you've never wanted, 
together, to offend us. You've wanted quite intensely 
not to, and the precautions you've had to take for it 
have been for a long time one of the strongest of my 
impressions. That, I think," she added, "is the way 
I've best known." 

"Known ?" he repeated after a moment. 

"Known. Known that you were older friends, and 
so much more intimate ones, than I had any reason to 
suppose when we married. Known there were things 
that hadn't been told me and that gave their mean 
ing, little by little, to other things that were before 

"Would they have made a difference, in the matter 
of our marriage," the Prince presently asked, "if you 
had known them?" 

She took her time to think. "I grant you not in 

the matter of ours." And then as he again fixed her 

with his hard yearning, which he couldn't keep down : 

"The question is so much bigger than that. You see 

. 207 


how much what I know makes of it for me." That 
was what acted on him, this iteration of her knowledge, 
into the question of the validity, of the various bear 
ings of which, he couldn't on the spot trust himself 
to pretend, in any high way, to go. What her claim, 
as she made it, represented for him that he couldn't 
help betraying, if only as a consequence of the effect 
of the word itself, her repeated distinct "know, know," 
on his nerves. She was capable of being sorry for his 
nerves at a time when he should need them for dining 
out, pompously, rather responsibly, without his heart 
in it; yet she was not to let that prevent her using, 
with all economy, so precious a chance for supreme 
clearness. "I didn't force this upon you, you must 
recollect, and it probably wouldn't have happened for 
you if you hadn't come in." 

"Ah," said the Prince, "I was liable to come in, you 

"I didn't think you were this evening." 

"And why not?" 

"Well," she answered, "you have many liabilities 
of different sorts." With which she recalled what she 
had said to Fanny Assingham. "And then you're so 

It produced in his features, in spite of his control of 
them, one of those quick plays of expression, the shade 
of a grimace, that testified as nothing else did to his 
race. "It's you, cara, who are deep." 

Which, after an instant, she had accepted from him ; 
she could so feel at last that it was true. "Then I 
shall have need of it all." 


"But what would you have done," he was by this 
time asking, "if I hadn't come in?" 

"I don't know." She had hesitated. "What 
would you?" 

"Oh, io that isn't the question. I depend upon 
you. I go on. You would have spoken to-morrow ?" 

"I think I would have waited." 

"And for what?" he asked. 

"To see what difference it would make for myself. 
My possession at last, I mean, of real knowledge." 

"Oh !" said the Prince. 

"My only point now, at any rate," she went on, "is 
the difference, as I say, that it may make for you. 
Your knowing was from the moment you did come 
in all I had in view." And she sounded it again 
he should have it once more. "Your knowing that 
I've ceased " 

"That you've ceased ?" With her pause, in 

fact, she had fairly made him press her for it. 

"Why, to be as I was. Not to know." 

It was once more then, after a little, that he had had 
to stand receptive; yet the singular effect of this was 
that there was still something of the same sort he was 
made to want. He had another hesitation, but at last 
this odd quantity showed. "Then does any one else 

It was as near as he could come to naming her 
father, and she kept him at that distance. "Any 
one ?" 

"Any one, I mean, but Fanny Assingham." 

"I should have supposed you had had by this time 

VOL. n. 14 209 


particular means of learning. I don't see," she said, 
"why you ask me." 

Then, after an instant and only after an instant, 
as she saw he made out what she meant ; and it gave 
her, all strangely enough, the still further light that 
Charlotte, for herself, knew as little as he had known. 
The vision loomed, in this light, it fairly glared, for 
the few seconds the vision of the two others alone 
together at Fawns, and Charlotte, as one of them, hav 
ing gropingly to go on, always not knowing and not 
knowing! The picture flushed at the same time with 
all its essential colour that of the so possible identity 
of her father's motive and principle with her own. 
He was "deep," as Amerigo called it, so that no vibra 
tion of the still air should reach his daughter; just as 
she had earned that description by making and by, for 
that matter, intending still to make, her care for his 
serenity, or at any rate for the firm outer shell of his 
dignity, all marvellous enamel, her paramount law. 
More strangely even than anything else, her husband 
seemed to speak now but to help her in this. "I know 
nothing but what you tell me." 

"Then I've told you all I intended. Find out the 
rest !" 

"Find it out ?" He waited. 

She stood before him a moment it took that time 
to go on. Depth upon depth of her situation, as she 
met his face, surged and sank within her ; but with the 
effect somehow, once more, that they rather lifted her 
than let her drop. She had her feet somewhere, 
through it all it was her companion, absolutely, who 



was at sea. And she kept her feet; she pressed them 
to what was beneath her. She went over to the bell 
beside the chimney and gave a ring that he could but 
take as a summons for her maid. It stopped every 
thing for the present; it was an intimation to him to 
go and dress. But she had to insist. "Find out for 
yourself !" 



AFTER the little party was again constituted at 
Fawns which had taken, for completeness, some ten 
days Maggie naturally felt herself still more pos 
sessed, in spirit, of everything that had last happened 
in London. There was a phrase that came back to 
her from old American years: she was having, by 
that idiom, the time of her life she knew it by the 
perpetual throb of this sense of possession, which was 
almost too violent either to recognise or to hide. 
It was as if she had come out that was her most 
general consciousness; out of a dark tunnel, a dense 
wood, or even simply a smoky room, and had thereby, 
at least, for going on, the advantage of air in her 
lungs. It was as if she were somehow at last gather 
ing in the fruits of patience; she had either been 
really more patient than she had known at the time, 
or had been so for longer: the change brought about 
by itself as great a difference of view as the shift 
of an inch in the position of a telescope. It was her 
telescope in fact that had gained in range just as 
her danger lay in her exposing herself to the observa 
tion by the more charmed, and therefore the more 



reckless, use of this optical resource. Not under any 
provocation to produce it in public was her unre- 
mitted rule; but the difficulties of duplicity had not 
shrunk, while the need of it had doubled. Humbug 
ging, which she had so practised with her father, had 
been a comparatively simple matter on the basis of 
mere doubt; but the ground to be covered was now 
greatly larger, and she felt not unlike some young 
woman of the theatre who, engaged for a minor part 
in the play and having mastered her cues with anxious 
effort, should find herself suddenly promoted to lead 
ing lady and expected to appear in every act of the 
five. She had made much to her husband, that last 
night, of her "knowing"; but it was exactly this 
quantity she now knew that, from the moment she 
could only dissimulate it, added to her responsibility 
and made of the latter all a mere question of having 
something precious and precarious in charge. There 
was no one to help her with it not even Fanny As- 
singham now; this good friend's presence having 
become, inevitably, with that climax of their last in 
terview in Portland Place, a severely simplified 
function. She had her use, oh yes, a thousand times; 
but it could only consist henceforth in her quite con 
spicuously touching at no point whatever assuredly, 
at least with Maggie the matter they had dis 
cussed. She was there, inordinately, as a value, but 
as a value only for the clear negation of everything. 
She was their general sign, precisely, of unimpaired 
beatitude and she was to live up to that somewhat 
arduous character, poor thing, as she might. She 



might privately lapse from it, if she must, with 
Amerigo or with Charlotte only not, of course, 
ever, so much as for the wink of an eye, with the 
master of the house. Such lapses would be her own 
affair, which Maggie at present could take no thought 
of. She treated her young friend meanwhile, it was 
to be said, to no betrayal of such wavering; so that 
from the moment of her alighting at the door with 
the Colonel everything went on between them at 
concert pitch. What had she done, that last evening 
in Maggie's room, but bring the husband and wife 
more together than, as would seem, they had ever 
been? Therefore what indiscretion should she not 
show by attempting to go behind the grand appear 
ance of her success? which would be to court a 
doubt of her beneficent work. She knew accordingly 
nothing but harmony and diffused, restlessly, nothing 
but peace an extravagant, expressive, aggressive 
peace, not incongruous, after all, with the solid calm 
of the place; a kind of helmetted, trident-shaking pax 

The peace, it must be added, had become, as the 
days elapsed, a peace quite generally animated and 
peopled thanks to that fact of the presence of 
"company" in which Maggie's ability to preserve an 
appearance had learned, from so far back, to find its 
best resource. It was not inconspicuous, it was in 
fact striking, that this resource, just now, seemed 
to meet in the highest degree every one's need: quite 
as if every one were, by the multiplication of human 
objects in the scene, by the creation, by the confusion, 



of fictive issues, hopeful of escaping somebody else's 
notice. It had reached the point, in truth, that the 
collective bosom might have been taken to heave 
with the knowledge of the descent upon adjacent 
shores, for a short period, of Mrs. Ranee and the 
Lutches, still united, and still so divided, for con 
quest: the sense of the party showed at least, oddly 
enough, as favourable to the fancy of the quaint 
turn that some near "week-end" might derive from 
their reappearance. This measured for Maggie the 
ground they had all travelled together since that 
unforgotten afternoon of the none so distant year, 
that determinant September Sunday when, sitting 
with her father in the park, as in commemoration of 
the climax both of their old order and of their old 
danger, she had proposed to him that they should "call 
in" Charlotte, call her in as a specialist might be 
summoned to an invalid's chair. Wasn't it a sign of 
something rather portentous, their being ready to be 
beholden, as for a diversion, to the once despised Kitty 
and Dotty? That had already had its application, in 
truth, to her invocation of the Castledeans and sev 
eral other members, again, of the historic Matcham 
week, made before she left town, and made, always 
consistently, with an idea since she was never 
henceforth to approach these people without an idea, 
and since that lurid element of their intercourse grew 
and grew for her with each occasion. The flame with 
which it burned afresh during these particular days, 
the way it held up the torch to anything, to every 
thing, that might have occurred as the climax of revels 



springing from traditions so vivified this by itself 
justified her private motive and reconsecrated her 
diplomacy. She had already produced by the aid of 
these people something of the effect she sought that 
of being "good" for whatever her companions were 
good for, and of not asking either of them to give 
up anyone or anything for her sake. There was 
moreover, frankly, a sharpness of point in it that 
she enjoyed; it gave an accent to the truth she 
wished to illustrate the truth that the surface of 
her recent life, thick-sown with the flower of earnest 
endeavour, with every form of the unruffled and the 
undoubting, suffered no symptom anywhere to peep 
out. It was as if, under her pressure, neither party 
could get rid of the complicity, as it might be figured, 
of the other; as if, in a word, she saw Amerigo and 
Charlotte committed, for fear of betrayals on their 
own side, to a kind of wan consistency on the subject 
of Lady Castledean's "set," and this latter group, 
by the same stroke, compelled to assist at attesta 
tions the extent and bearing of which they rather 
failed to grasp and which left them indeed, in spite 
of hereditary high spirits, a trifle bewildered and even 
a trifle scared. 

They made, none the less, at Fawns, for number, 
for movement, for sound they played their parts 
during a crisis that must have hovered for them, in 
the long passages of the old house, after the fashion 
of the established ghost, felt, through the dark hours 
as a constant possibility, rather than have menaced 
them in the form of a daylight bore, one of the per- 



ceived outsiders who are liable to be met in the 
drawing-room or to be sat next to at dinner. If the 
Princess, moreover, had failed of her occult use for 
so much of the machinery of diversion, she would 
still have had a sense not other than sympathetic 
for the advantage now extracted from it by Fanny 
Assingham's bruised philosophy. This good friend's 
relation to it was actually the revanche, she sufficiently 
indicated, of her obscured lustre at Matcham, where 
she had known her way about so much less than 
most of the others. She knew it at Fawns, through 
the pathless wild of the right tone, positively better 
than any one, Maggie could note for her; and her 
revenge had the magnanimity of a brave pointing 
out of it to every one else, a wonderful irresistible, 
conscious, almost compassionate patronage. Here 
was a house, she triumphantly caused it to be noted, 
in which she so bristled with values that some of them 
might serve, by her amused willingness to share, for 
such of the temporarily vague, among her fellow- 
guests, such of the dimly disconcerted, as had lost 
the key to their own. It may have been partly 
through the effect of this especial strain of com 
munity with her old friend that Maggie found herself, 
one evening, moved to take up again their dropped 
directness of reference. They had remained down 
stairs together late; the other women of the party 
had filed, singly or in couples, up the "grand" stair 
case on which, from the equally grand hall, these 
retreats and advances could always be pleasantly 
observed; the men had apparently taken their way to 



the smoking-room; while the Princess, in possession 
thus of a rare reach of view, had lingered as if to 
enjoy it. Then she saw that Mrs. Assingham was 
remaining a little and as for the appreciation of her 
enjoyment; upon which they stood looking at each 
other across the cleared prospect until the elder 
woman, only vaguely expressive and tentative now, 
came nearer. It was like the act of asking if there 
were anything she could yet do, and that question was 
answered by her immediately feeling, on this closer 
view, as she had felt when presenting herself in Port 
land Place after Maggie's last sharp summons. Their 
understanding was taken up by these new snatched 
moments where that occasion had left it. 

"He has never told her that I know. Of that I'm 
at last satisfied." And then as Mrs. Assingham 
opened wide eyes: "I've been in the dark since we 
came down, not understanding what he has been 
doing or intending not making out what can have 
passed between them. But within a day or two I've 
begun to suspect, and this evening, for reasons oh, 
too many to tell you! I've been sure, since it ex 
plains. Nothing has passed between them that's 
what has happened. It explains," the Princess re 
peated with energy; "it explains, it explains!" She 
spoke in a manner that her auditor was afterwards 
to describe to the Colonel, oddly enough, as that 
of the quietest excitement; she had turned back to 
the chimney-place, where, in honour of a damp day 
and a chill night, the piled logs had turned to flame 
and sunk to embers; and the evident intensity of her 



vision for the fact she imparted made Fanny Assing- 
ham wait upon her words. It explained, this striking 
fact, more indeed than her companion, though 
conscious of fairly gaping with good-will, could 
swallow at once. The Princess, however, as for 
indulgence and confidence, quickly filled up the 
measure. "He hasn't let her know that I know 
and, clearly, doesn't mean to. He has made up his 
mind; he'll say nothing about it. Therefore, as she's 
quite unable to arrive at the knowledge by herself, 
she has no idea how much I'm really in possession. 
She believes," said Maggie, "and, so far as her own 
conviction goes, she knows, that I'm not in possession 
of anything. And that, somehow, for my own help 
seems to me immense." 

"Immense, my dear!" Mrs. Assingham applaus- 
ively murmured, though not quite, even as yet, seeing 
all the way. "He's keeping quiet then on purpose?" 

"On purpose." Maggie's lighted eyes, at least, 
looked further than they had ever looked. "He'll 
never tell her now." 

Fanny wondered; she cast about her; most of all 
she admired her little friend, in whom this announce 
ment was evidently animated by an heroic lucidity. 
She stood there, in her full uniform, like some small 
erect commander of a siege, an anxious captain who 
has suddenly got news, replete with importance for 
him, of agitation, of division within the place. This 
importance breathed upon her comrade. "So you're 
all right?" 

"Oh, all right's a good deal to say. But I seem 


at least to see, as I haven't before, where I am 
with it." 

Fanny bountifully brooded; there was a point left 
vague. "And you have it from him? your hus 
band himself has told you?" 

" Told' me ?" 

"Why, what you speak of. It isn't of an assurance 
received from him then that you do speak?" 

At which Maggie had continued to stare. "Dear 
me, no. Do you suppose I've asked him for an 

"Ah, you haven't?" Her companion smiled. 
"That's what I supposed you might mean. Then, 
darling, what have you ?" 

"Asked him for? I've asked him for nothing." 

But this, in turn, made Fanny stare. "Then noth 
ing, that evening of the Embassy dinner, passed 
between you?" 

"On the contrary, everything passed." 

"Everything ?" 

"Everything. I told him what I knew and I told 
him how I knew it." 

Mrs. Assingham waited. "And that was all?" 

"Wasn't it quite enough?" 

"Oh, love," she bridled, "that's for you to have 

"Then I have judged," said Maggie "I did judge. 
I made sure he understood then I let him alone." 

Mrs. Assingham wondered. "But he didn't ex 
plain ?" 

"Explain? Thank God, no!" Maggie threw 


her head as with horror at the thought, then the next 
moment added : "And I didn't, either." 

The decency of pride in it shed a cold little light 
yet as from heights at the base of which her com 
panion rather panted. "But if he neither denies nor 
confesses ?" 

"He does what's a thousand times better he lets 
it alone. He does," Maggie went on, "as he would 
do; as I see now that I was sure he would. He lets 
me alone." 

Fanny Assingham turned it over. "Then how do 
you know so where, as you say, you 'are'?" 

"Why, just by that. I put him in possession of the 
difference; the difference made, about me, by the fact 
that I hadn't been, after all though with a won 
derful chance, I admitted, helping me too stupid 
to have arrived at knowledge. He had to see that 
I'm changed for him quite changed from the idea 
of me that he had so long been going on with. 
It became a question then of his really taking in 
the change and what I now see is that he is 
doing so." 

Fanny followed as she could. "Which he shows 
by letting you, as you say, alone?" 

Maggie looked at her a minute. "And by letting 

Mrs. Assingham did what she might to embrace 
it checked a little, however, by a thought that was 
the nearest approach she could have, in this almost 
too large air, to an inspiration. "Ah, but does Char 
lotte let him?" 



"Oh, that's another affair with which I've prac 
tically nothing to do. I dare say, however, she 
doesn't." And the Princess had a more distant gaze 
for the image evoked by the question. "I don't in 
fact well see how she can. But the point for me is 
that he understands." 

"Yes," Fanny Assingham cooed, "understands ?" 

"Well, what I want. I want a happiness without 
a hole in it big enough for you to poke in your 

"A brilliant, perfect surface to begin with at 
least. I see." 

"The golden bowl as it was to have been." And 
Maggie dwelt musingly on this obscured figure. 
"The bowl with all our happiness in it. The bowl with 
out the crack." 

For Mrs. Assingham too the image had its force, 
and the precious object shone before her again, re 
constituted, plausible, presentable. But wasn't there 
still a piece missing? "Yet if he lets you alone and 
you only let him ?" 

"Mayn't our doing so, you mean, be noticed? 
mayn't it give us away? Well, we hope not we try 
not we take such care. We alone know what's be 
tween us we and you; and haven't you precisely 
been struck, since you've been here," Maggie asked, 
"with our making so good a show?" 

Her friend hesitated. "To your father?" 

But it made her hesitate too; she wouldn't speak 
of her father directly. "To every one. To her now 
that you understand.". 



It held poor Fanny again in wonder. "To Char 
lotte yes: if there's so much beneath it, for you, and 
if it's all such a plan. That makes it hang together 
it makes you hang together." She fairly exhaled her 
admiration. "You're like nobody else you're 

Maggie met it with appreciation, but with a re 
serve. "No, I'm not extraordinary but I am, for 
every one, quiet." 

"Well, that's just what is extraordinary. 'Quiet' 
is more than 7 am, and you leave me far behind." 
With which, again, for an instant, Mrs. Assingham 
frankly brooded. " 'Now that I understand/ you 
say but there's one thing I don't understand." And 
the next minute, while her companion waited, she 
had mentioned it. "How can Charlotte, after all, not 
have pressed him, not have attacked him about it? 
How can she not have asked him asked him on his 
honour, I mean if you know?" 

"How can she 'not'? Why, of course," said the 
Princess limpidly, "she must!" 

"Well then ?" 

"Well then, you think, he must have told her? 
Why, exactly what I mean," said Maggie, "is that 
he will have done nothing of the sort; will, as I say, 
have maintained the contrary." 

Fanny Assingham weighed it. "Under her direct 
appeal for the truth?" 

"Under her direct appeal for the truth." 

"Her appeal to his honour?" 

"Her appeal to his honour. That's my point." 


Fanny Assingham braved it. "For the truth as 
from him to her?" 

"From him to any one." 

Mrs. Assingham's face lighted. "He'll simply, 
he'll insistently have lied?" 

Maggie brought it out roundly. "He'll simply, 
he'll insistently have lied." 

It held again her companion, who next, however, 
with a single movement, throwing herself on her neck, 
overflowed. "Oh, if you knew how you help me!" 

Maggie had liked her to understand, so far as this 
was possible; but had not been slow to see after 
wards how the possibility was limited, when one came 
to think, by mysteries she was not to sound. This 
inability in her was indeed not remarkable, inasmuch 
as the Princess herself, as we have seen, was only 
now in a position to boast of touching bottom. 
Maggie lived, inwardly, in a consciousness that she 
could but partly open even to so good a friend, and 
her own visitation of the fuller expanse of which was, 
for that matter, still going on. They had been 
duskier still, however, these recesses of her imagina 
tion that, no doubt, was what might at present be 
said for them. She had looked into them, on the eve 
of her leaving town, almost without penetration: she 
had made out in those hours, and also, of a truth, dur 
ing the days which immediately followed, little more 
than the strangeness of a relation having for its chief 
mark whether to be prolonged or not the absence 
of any "intimate" result of the crisis she had invited 
her husband to recognise. They had dealt with this 



crisis again, face to face, very briefly, the morning 
after the scene in her room but with the odd conse 
quence of her having appeared merely to leave it on 
his hands. He had received it from her as he might 
have received a bunch of keys or a list of commissions 
attentive to her instructions about them, but only 
putting them, for the time, very carefully and safely, 
into his pocket. The instructions had seemed, from 
day to day, to make so little difference for his be 
haviour that is for his speech or his silence; to 
produce, as yet, so little of the fruit of action. He 
had taken from her, on the spot, in a word, before 
going to dress for dinner, all she then had to give 
after which, on the morrow, he had asked her for 
more, a good deal as if she might have renewed her 
supply during the night; but he had had at his com 
mand for this latter purpose an air of extraordinary 
detachment and discretion, an air amounting really 
to an appeal which, if she could have brought herself 
to describe it vulgarly, she would have described as 
cool, just as he himself would have described it in 
any one else as "cheeky"; a suggestion that she 
should trust him on the particular ground since she 
didn't on the general. Neither his speech nor his 
silence struck her as signifying more, or less, under 
this pressure, than they had seemed to signify for 
weeks past; yet if her sense hadn't been absolutely 
closed to the possibility in him of any thought of 
wounding her, she might have taken his undisturbed 
manner, the perfection of his appearance of having 
recovered himself, for one of those intentions of high 
VOL. II. 15 225 


impertinence by the aid of which great people, Ics 
grands seigneurs, persons of her husband's class and 
type, always know how to re-establish a violated 

It was her one purely good fortune that she could 
feel thus sure impertinence to her at any rate was 
not among the arts on which he proposed to throw 
himself; for though he had, in so almost mystifying 
a manner, replied to nothing, denied nothing, ex 
plained nothing, apologised for nothing, he had 
somehow conveyed to her that this was not because 
of any determination to treat her case as not "worth" 
it. There had been consideration, on both occasions, 
in the way he had listened to her even though at 
the same time there had been extreme reserve; a 
reserve indeed, it was also to be remembered, qual 
ified by the fact that, on their second and shorter 
interview, in Portland Place, and quite at the end of 
this passage, she had imagined him positively pro 
posing to her a temporary accommodation. It had 
been but the matter of something in the depths of 
the eyes he finally fixed upon her, and she had found 
in it, the more she kept it before her, the tacitly- 
offered sketch of a working arrangement. "Leave 
me my reserve; don't question it it's all I have, just 
now, don't you see? so that, if you'll make me the 
concession of letting me alone with it for as long a 
time as I require, I promise you something or other, 
grown under cover of it, even though I don't yet 
quite make out what, as a return for your patience." 
She had turned away from him with some such un- 



spoken words as that in her ear, and indeed she had 
to represent to herself that she had spiritually heard 
them, had to listen to them still again, to explain her 
particular patience in face of his particular failure. 
He hadn't so much as pretended to meet for an in 
stant the question raised by her of her accepted 
ignorance of the point in time, the period before their 
own marriage, from which his intimacy with Char 
lotte dated. As an ignorance in which he and 
Charlotte had been personally interested and to the 
pitch of consummately protecting, for years, each 
other's interest as a condition so imposed upon her 
the fact of its having ceased might have made it, on 
the spot, the first article of his defence. He had 
vouchsafed it, however, nothing better than his 
longest stare of postponed consideration. That trib 
ute he had coldly paid it, and Maggie might herself 
have been stupefied, truly, had she not had something 
to hold on by, at her own present ability, even pro 
visional, to make terms with a chapter of history into 
which she could but a week before not have dipped 
without a mortal chill. At the rate at which she was 
living she was getting used hour by hour to these 
extensions of view; and when she asked herself, at 
Fawns, to what single observation of her own, in 
London, the Prince had had an affirmation to oppose, 
she but just failed to focus the small strained wife 
of the moments in question as some panting dancer 
of a difficult step who had capered, before the foot 
lights of an empty theatre, to a spectator lounging 
in a box. 



Her best comprehension of Amerigo's success in 
not committing himself was in her recall, meanwhile, 
of the inquiries he had made of her on their only 
return to the subject, and which he had in fact ex 
plicitly provoked their return in order to make. He 
had had it over with her again, the so distinctly re 
markable incident of her interview 7 at home with 
the little Bloomsbury shopman. This anecdote, for 
him, had, not altogether surprisingly, required some 
straighter telling, and the Prince's attitude in pres 
ence of it had represented once more his nearest 
approach to a cross-examination. The difficulty in 
respect to the little man had been for the question 
of his motive his motive in writing, first, in the spirit 
of retraction, to a lady with whom he had made a 
most advantageous bargain, and in then coming to 
see her so that his apology should be personal. 
Maggie had felt her explanation weak; but there 
were the facts, and she could give no other. Left 
alone, after the transaction, with the knowledge that 
his visitor designed the object bought of him as a 
birthday-gift to her father for Maggie confessed 
freely to having chattered to him almost as to a 
friend the vendor of the golden bowl had acted on 
a scruple rare enough in vendors of any class, and 
almost unprecedented in the thrifty children of Israel. 
He hadn't liked what he had done, and what he had 
above all made such a "good thing" of having done; 
at the thought of his purchaser's good faith and 
charming presence, opposed to that flaw in her ac- 
question which would make it, verily, as an offering 



to a loved parent, a thing of sinister meaning and evil 
effect, he had known conscientious, he had known 
superstitious visitings, had given way to a whim all 
the more remarkable to his own commercial mind, 
no doubt, from its never having troubled him in other 
connexions. She had recognised the oddity of her 
adventure and left it to show for what it was. She 
had not been unconscious, on the other hand, that 
if it hadn't touched Amerigo so nearly he would have 
found in it matter for some amused reflection. He 
had uttered an extraordinary sound, something be 
tween a laugh and a howl, on her saying, as she had 
made a point of doing: "Oh, most certainly, he told 
me his reason was because he 'liked' me!" though 
she remained in doubt of whether that inarticulate 
comment had been provoked most by the familiari 
ties she had offered or by those that, so pictured, she 
had had to endure. That the partner of her bar 
gain had yearned to see her again, that he had plain 
ly jumped at a pretext for it, this also she had 
frankly expressed herself to the Prince as having, in 
no snubbing, no scandalised, but rather in a positively 
appreciative and indebted spirit, not delayed to make 
out. He had wished, ever so seriously, to return 
her a part of her money, and she had wholly declined 
to receive it; and then he had uttered his hope that 
she had not, at all events, already devoted the crystal 
cup to the beautiful purpose she had, so kindly and 
so fortunately, named to him. It wasn't a thing for 
a present to a person she was fond of, for she wouldn't 
wish to give a present that would bring ill luck. 



That had come to him so that he couldn't rest, and 
he should feel better now that he had told her. His 
having led her to act in ignorance was what he should 
have been ashamed of; and, if she would pardon, 
gracious lady as she was, all the liberties he had 
taken, she might make of the bowl any use in life but 
that one. 

It was after this that the most extraordinary in 
cident of all, of course, had occurred his pointing 
to the two photographs with the remark that those 
were persons he knew, and that, more wonderful still, 
he had made acquaintance with them, years before, 
precisely over the same article. The lady, on that 
occasion, had taken up the fancy of presenting it to 
the gentleman, and the gentleman, guessing and 
dodging ever so cleverly, had declared that he 
wouldn't for the world receive an object under 
such suspicion. He himself, the little man had con 
fessed, wouldn't have minded about them; but he 
had never forgotten either their talk or their faces, 
the impression altogether made by them, and, if 
she really wished to know, now, what had per 
haps most moved him, it was the thought that 
she should ignorantly have gone in for a thing not 
good enough for other buyers. He had been im 
mensely struck that was another point with this 
accident of their turning out, after so long, friends 
of hers too: they had disappeared, and this was the 
only light he had ever had upon them. He had flushed 
up, quite red, with his recognition, with all his re 
sponsibility had declared that the connexion must 



have had, mysteriously, something to do with the 
impulse he had obeyed. And Maggie had made, to 
her husband, while he again stood before her, no 
secret of the shock, for herself, so suddenly and 
violently received. She had done her best, even while 
taking it full in the face, not to give herself away; 
but she wouldn't answer no, she wouldn't for what 
she might, in her agitation, have made her informant 
think. He might think what he would there had 
been three or four minutes during which, while she 
asked him question upon question, she had doubtless 
too little cared. And he had spoken, for his remem 
brance, as fully as she could have wished; he had 
spoken, oh, delightedly, for the "terms" on which 
his other visitors had appeared to be with each other, 
and in fact for that conviction of the nature and 
degree of their intimacy under which, in spite of pre 
cautions, they hadn't been able to help leaving him. 
He had observed and judged and not forgotten; he 
had been sure they were great people, but no, ah no, 
distinctly, hadn't "liked" them as he liked the Signora 
Principessa. Certainly she had created no vague 
ness about that he had been in possession of her 
name and address, for sending her both her cup and 
her account. But the others he had only, always, 
wondered about he had been sure they would never 
come back. And as to the time of their visit, he 
could place it, positively, to a day by reason of a 
transaction of importance, recorded in his books, that 
had occurred but a few hours later. He had left her, 
in short, definitely rejoicing that he had been able 



to make up to her for not having been quite "square" 
over their little business by rendering her, so unex 
pectedly, the service of this information. His joy, 
moreover, was as much as Amerigo would! a mat 
ter of the personal interest with which her kindness, 
gentleness, grace, her charming presence and easy 
humanity and familiarity, had inspired him. All of 
which, while, in thought, Maggie went over it again 
and again oh, over any imputable rashness of her 
own immediate passion and pain, as well as over the 
rest of the straight little story she had, after all, to 
tell might very conceivably make a long sum for the 
Prince to puzzle out. 

There were meanwhile, after the Castledeans and 
those invited to meet them had gone, and before Mrs. 
Ranee and the Lutches had come, three or four days 
during which she was to learn the full extent of 
her need not to be penetrable; and then it was indeed 
that she felt all the force, and threw herself upon all 
the help, of the truth she had confided, several nights 
earlier, to Fanny Assingham. She had known it in 
advance, had warned herself of it while the house 
was full: Charlotte had designs upon her of a nature 
best known to herself, and was only waiting for the 
better opportunity of their finding themselves less 
companioned. This consciousness had been exactly 
at the bottom of Maggie's wish to multiply their 
spectators; there were moments for her, positive 
ly, moments of planned postponement, of evasion 
scarcely less disguised than studied, during which 
she turned over with anxiety the different ways 



there being two or three possible ones in which her 
young stepmother might, at need, seek to work upon 
her. Amerigo's not having "told" her of his passage 
with his wife gave, for Maggie, altogether a new 
aspect to Charlotte's consciousness and condition 
an aspect with which, for apprehension, for wonder, 
and even, at moments, inconsequently enough, for 
something like compassion, the Princess had now to 
reckon. She asked herself for she was capable of 
that what he had meant by keeping the sharer of 
his guilt in the dark about a matter touching her 
otherwise so nearly; what he had meant, that is, for 
this unmistakably mystified personage herself. Mag 
gie could imagine what he had meant for her all 
sorts of thinkable things, whether things of mere 
"form" or things of sincerity, things of pity or things 
of prudence: he had meant, for instance, in all prob 
ability, primarily, to conjure away any such ap 
pearance of a changed relation between the two 
women as his father-in-law might notice and follow 
up. It would have been open to him however, given 
the pitch of their intimacy, to avert this danger by 
some more conceivable course with Charlotte; since 
an earnest warning, in fact, the full freedom of alarm, 
that of his insisting to her on the peril of suspicion in 
curred, and on the importance accordingly of outward 
peace at any price, would have been the course really 
most conceivable. Instead of warning and advising 
he had reassured and deceived her; so that our young 
woman, who had been, from far back, by the habit 
of her nature, as much on her guard against sac- 



rificing others as if she felt the great trap of life 
mainly to be set for one's doing so, now found herself 
attaching her fancy to that side of the situation of 
the exposed pair which involved, for themselves at 
least, the sacrifice of the least fortunate. 

She never, at present, thought of what Amerigo 
might be intending, without the reflection, by the 
same stroke, that, whatever this quantity, he was 
leaving still more to her own ingenuity. He was 
helping her, when the thing came to the test, only 
by the polished, possibly almost too polished surface 
his manner to his wife wore for an admiring world; 
and that, surely, was entitled to scarcely more than 
the praise of negative diplomacy. He was keeping 
his manner right, as she had related to Mrs. Assing- 
ham; the case would have been beyond calculation, 
truly, if, on top of everything, he had allowed it to 
go wrong. She had hours of exaltation indeed when 
the meaning of all this pressed in upon her as a tacit 
vow from him to abide without question by whatever 
she should be able to achieve or think fit to prescribe. 
Then it was that, even while holding her breath for 
the awe of it, she truly felt almost able enough for 
anything. It was as if she had passed, in a time in 
credibly short, from being nothing for him to being 
all; it was as if, rightly noted, every turn of his head, 
every tone of his voice, in these days, might mean that 
there was but one way in which a proud man reduced 
to abjection could hold himself. During those of 
Maggie's vigils in which that view loomed largest, 
the image of her husband that it thus presented to 



her gave out a beauty for the revelation of which she 
struck herself as paying, if anything, all too little. To 
make sure of it to make sure of the beauty shining 
out of the humility, and of the humility lurking in 
all the pride of his presence she would have gone 
the length of paying more yet, of paying with dif 
ficulties and anxieties compared to which those 
actually before her might have been as superficial as 
headaches or rainy days. 

The point at which these exaltations dropped, 
however, was the point at which it was apt to come 
over her that if her complications had been greater 
the question of paying would have been limited still 
less to the liabilities of her own pocket. The com 
plications were verily great enough, whether for 
ingenuities or sublimities, so long as she had to come 
back to it so often that Charlotte, all the while, could 
only be struggling with secrets sharper than her own. 
It was odd how that certainty again and again deter 
mined and coloured her wonderments of detail; the 
question, for instance, of how Amerigo, in snatched 
opportunities of conference, put the haunted creature 
off with false explanations, met her particular chal 
lenges and evaded if that was what he did do! 
her particular demands. Even the conviction that 
Charlotte was but awaiting some chance really to 
test her trouble upon her lover's wife left Maggie's 
sense meanwhile open as to the sight of gilt wires 
and bruised wings, the spacious but suspended cage, 
the home of eternal unrest, of pacings, beatings, 
shakings, all so vain, into which the baffled conscious- 



ness helplessly resolved itself. The cage was the 
deluded condition, and Maggie, as having known 
delusion rather! understood the nature of cages. 
She walked round Charlotte's cautiously and in a 
very wide circle; and when, inevitably, they had to 
communicate she felt herself, comparatively, outside, 
on the breast of nature, and saw her companion's 
face as that of a prisoner looking through bars. So 
it was that through bars, bars richly gilt, but firmly, 
though discreetly, planted, Charlotte finally struck 
her as making a grim attempt; from which, at first, 
the Princess drew back as instinctively as if the door 
of the cage had suddenly been opened from within. 



THEY had been alone that evening alone as a 
party of six, and four of them, after dinner, under 
suggestion not to be resisted, sat down to "bridge" in 
the smoking-room. They had passed together to that 
apartment, on rising from table, Charlotte and Mrs. 
Assingham alike indulgent, always, to tobacco, and in 
fact practising an emulation which, as Fanny said, 
would, for herself, had the Colonel not issued an inter 
dict based on the fear of her stealing his cigars, have 
stopped only at the short pipe. Here cards had with 
inevitable promptness asserted their rule, the game 
forming itself, as had often happened before, of Mr. 
Verver with Mrs. Assingham for partner and of the 
Prince with Mrs. Verver. The Colonel, who had 
then asked of Maggie license to relieve his mind of a 
couple of letters for the earliest post out on the mor 
row, was addressing himself to this task at the other 
end of the room, and the Princess herself had wel 
comed the comparatively hushed hour for the bridge- 
players were serious and silent much in the mood of 
a tired actress who has the good fortune to be "off," 
while her mates are on, almost long enough for a nap 
on the property sofa in the wing. Maggie's nap, had 
she been able to snatch forty winks, would have been 



of the spirit rather than of the sense; yet as she sub 
sided, near a lamp, with the last salmon-coloured 
French periodical, she was to fail, for refreshment, 
even of that sip of independence. 

There was no question for her, as she found, of clos 
ing her eyes and getting away; they strayed back to 
life, in the stillness, over the top of her Review; she 
could lend herself to none of those refinements of the 
higher criticism with which its pages bristled ; she was 
there, where her companions were, there again and 
more than ever there; it was as if, of a sudden, they 
had been made, in their personal intensity and their 
rare complexity of relation, freshly importunate to her. 
It was the first evening there had been no one else. 
Mrs. Ranee and the Lutches were due the next day; 
but meanwhile the facts of the situation were upright 
for her round the green cloth and the silver flambeaux ; 
the fact of her father's wife's lover facing his mistress ; 
the fact of her father sitting, all unsounded and un 
blinking, between them; the fact of Charlotte keeping 
it up, keeping up everything, across the table, with 
her husband beside her ; the fact of Fanny Assingham, 
wonderful creature, placed opposite to the three and 
knowing more about each, probably, when one came to 
think, than either of them knew of either. Erect 
above all for her was the sharp-edged fact of the rela 
tion of the whole group, individually and collectively, 
to herself herself so speciously eliminated for the 
hour, but presumably more present to the attention of 
each than the next card to be played. 

Yes, under that imputation, to her sense, they sat 


the imputation of wondering, beneath and behind all 
their apparently straight play, if she weren't really 
watching them from her corner and consciously, 
as might be said, holding them in her hand. She was 
asking herself at last how they could bear it for, 
though cards were as nought to her and she could fol 
low no move, so that she was always, on such occa 
sions, out of the party, they struck her as conforming 
alike, in the matter of gravity and propriety, to the 
stiff standard of the house. Her father, she knew, 
was a high adept, one of the greatest she had been 
ever, in her stupidity, his small, his sole despair; 
Amerigo excelled easily, as he understood and prac 
tised every art that could beguile large leisure; Mrs. 
Assingham and Charlotte, moreover, were- accounted 
as "good" as members of a sex incapable of the nobler 
consistency could be. Therefore, evidently, they were 
not, all so up to their usual form, merely passing it off, 
whether for her or for themselves ; and the amount of 
enjoyed, or at least achieved, security represented by 
so complete a conquest of appearances was what acted 
on her nerves, precisely, with a kind of provocative 
force. She found herself, for five minutes, thrilling 
with the idea of the prodigious effect that, just as she 
sat there near them, she had at her command; with 
the sense that if she were but different oh, ever so 
different! all this high decorum would hang by a 
hair. There reigned for her, absolutely, during these 
vertiginous moments,, that fascination of the mon 
strous that temptation of the horribly possible, which 
we so often trace by its breaking out suddenly, lest 



it should go further, in unexplained retreats and re 

After it had been thus vividly before her for a little 
that, springing up under her wrong and making them 
all start, stare and turn pale, she might sound out their 
doom in a single sentence, a sentence easy to choose 
among several of the lurid after she had faced that 
blinding light and felt it turn to blackness she rose 
from her place, laying aside her magazine, and moved 
slowly round the room, passing near the card-players 
and pausing an instant behind the chairs in turn. 
Silent and discreet, she bent a vague mild face upon 
them, as if to signify that, little as she followed their 
doings, she wished them well ; and she took from each, 
across the table, in the common solemnity, an upward 
recognition which she was to carry away with her on 
her moving out to the terrace, a few minutes later. 
Her father and her husband, Mrs. Assingham and 
Charlotte, had done nothing but meet her eyes ; yet the 
difference in these demonstrations made each a sepa 
rate passage which was all the more wonderful since, 
with the secret behind every face, they had alike tried 
to look at her through it and in denial of it. 

It all left her, as she wandered off, with the strangest 
of impressions the sense, forced upon her as never 
yet, of an appeal, a positive confidence, from the four 
pairs of eyes, that was deeper than any negation, and 
that seemed to speak, on the part of each, of some 
relation to be contrived by her, a relation with herself, 
which would spare the individual the danger, the actual 
present strain, of the relation with the others. They 



thus tacitly put it upon her to be disposed of, the whole 
complexity of their peril, and she promptly saw why : 
because she was there, and there just as she was, to 
lift it off them and take it ; to charge herself with it as 
the scapegoat of old, of whom she had once seen a 
terrible picture, had been charged with the sins of the 
people and had gone forth into the desert to sink under 
his burden and die. That indeed wasn't their design 
and their interest, that she should sink under hers; it 
wouldn't be their feeling that she should do anything 
but live, live on somehow for their benefit, and even as 
much as possible in their company, to keep proving to 
them that they had truly escaped and that she was still 
there to simplify. This idea of her simplifying, and 
of their combined struggle, dim as yet but steadily 
growing, toward the perception of her adopting it from 
them, clung to her while she hovered on the terrace, 
where the summer night was so soft that she scarce 
needed the light shawl she had picked up. Several of 
the long windows of the occupied rooms stood open to 
it, and the light came out in vague shafts and fell upon 
the old smooth stones. The hour was moonless and 
starless and the air heavy and still which was why, 
in her evening dress, she need fear no chill and could 
get away, in the outer darkness, from that provocation 
of opportunity which had assaulted her, within, on her 
sofa, as a beast might have leaped at her throat. 

Nothing in fact was stranger than the way in which, 
when she had remained there a little, her companions, 
watched by her through one of the windows, actually 
struck her as almost consciously and gratefully safer. 

VOL. II. ifr 241 


They might have been really charming as they 
showed in the beautiful room, and Charlotte certainly, 
as always, magnificently handsome and supremely dis 
tinguished they might have been figures rehearsing 
some play of which she herself was the author; they 
might even, for the happy appearance they continued 
to present, have been such figures as would, by the 
strong note of character in each, fill any author with the 
certitude of success, especially of their own histrionic. 
They might in short have represented any mystery 
they would; the point being predominantly that the 
key to the mystery, the key that could wind and unwind 
it without a snap of the spring, was there in her pocket 
or rather, no doubt, clasped at this crisis in her hand 
and pressed, as she walked back and forth, to her 
breast. She walked to the end and far out of the 
light; she returned and saw the others still where she 
had left them ; she passed round the house and looked 
into the drawing-room, lighted also, but empty now, 
and seeming to speak the more, in its own voice, of all 
the possibilities she controlled. Spacious and splen 
did, like a stage again awaiting a drama, it was a 
scene she might people, by the press of her spring, 
either with serenities and dignities and decencies, or 
with terrors and shames and ruins, things as ugly as 
those formless fragments of her golden bowl she was 
trying so hard to pick up. 

She continued to walk and continued to pause; she 
stopped afresh for the look into the smoking-room, 
and by this time it was as if the recognition had of 
itself arrested her she saw as in a picture, with the 



temptation she had fled from quite extinct, why it was 
she had been able to give herself so little, from the 
first, to the vulgar heat of her wrong. She might 
fairly, as she watched them, have missed it as a lost 
thing ; have yearned for it, for the straight vindictive 
view, the rights of resentment, the rages of jealousy, 
the protests of passion, as for something she had been 
cheated of not least : a range of feelings which for 
many women would have meant so much, but which 
for her husband's wife, for her father's daughter, fig 
ured nothing nearer to experience than a wild eastern 
caravan, looming into view with crude colours in the 
sun, fierce pipes in the air, high spears against the sky, 
all a thrill, a natural joy to mingle with, but turning 
off short before it reached her and plunging into other 
defiles. She saw at all events why horror itself had 
almost failed her; the horror that, foreshadowed in 
advance, would, by her thought, have made everything 
that was unaccustomed in her cry out with pain; the 
horror of finding evil seated, all at its ease, where she 
had only dreamed of good; the horror of the thing 
hideously behind, behind so much trusted, so much pre 
tended, nobleness, cleverness, tenderness. It was the 
first sharp falsity she had known -in her life, to touch 
at all, or be touched by ; it had met her like some bad- 
faced stranger surprised in one of the thick-carpeted 
corridors of a house of quiet on a Sunday afternoon ; 
and yet, yes, amazingly, she had been able to look at 
terror and disgust only to know that she must put away 
from her the bitter-sweet of their freshness. The sight, 
from the window, of the group so constituted, told her 



why, told her how, named to her, as with hard lips, 
named straight at her, so that she must take it full in the 
face, that other possible relation to the whole fact which 
alone would bear upon her irresistibly. It was extraor 
dinary : they positively brought home to her that to feel 
about them in any of the immediate, inevitable, as 
suaging ways, the ways usually open to innocence out 
raged and generosity betrayed, would have been to give 
them up, and that giving them up was, marvellously, 
not to be thought of. She had never, from the first 
hour of her state of acquired conviction, given them 
up so little as now ; though she was, no doubt, as the 
consequence of a step taken a few minutes later, to in 
voke the conception of doing that, if might be, even 
less. She had resumed her walk stopping here and 
there, while she rested on the cool smooth stone balus 
trade, to draw it out; in the course of which, after a 
little, she passed again the lights of the empty draw 
ing-room and paused again for what she saw and felt 

It was not at once, however, that this became quite 
concrete; that was the effect of her presently making 
out that Charlotte was in the room, launched and erect 
there, in the middle; and looking about her; that she 
had evidently just come round to it, from her card- 
table, by one of the passages with the expectation, to 
all appearance, of joining her stepdaughter. She had 
pulled up at seeing the great room empty Maggie not 
having passed out, on leaving the group, in a manner 
to be observed. So definite a quest of her, with the 
bridge-party interrupted or altered for it, was an im- 



pression that fairly assailed the Princess, and to 
which something of attitude and aspect, of the air of 
arrested pursuit and purpose, in Charlotte, together 
with the suggestion of her next vague movements, 
quickly added its meaning. This meaning was that 
she had decided, that she had been infinitely conscious 
of Maggie's presence before, that she knew that she 
would at last find her alone, and that she wanted her, 
for some reason, enough to have presumably called on 
Bob Assingham for aid. He had taken her chair and 
let her go, and the arrangement was for Maggie a 
signal proof of her earnestness ; of the energy, in fact, 
that, though superficially commonplace in a situation 
in which people weren't supposed to be watching each 
other, was what affected our young woman, on the 
spot, as a breaking of bars. The splendid shining sup 
ple creature was out of the cage, was at large ; and the 
question now almost grotesquely rose of whether she 
mightn't by some art, just where she was and before 
she could go further, be hemmed in and secured. It 
would have been for a moment, in this case, a matter 
of quickly closing the windows and giving the alarm 
with poor Maggie's sense that, though she couldn't 
know what she wanted of her, it was enough for trep 
idation that, at these firm hands, anything should be : 
to say nothing of the sequel of a flight taken again 
along the terrace, even under the shame of the con 
fessed feebleness of such evasions on the part of an 
outraged wife. It was to this feebleness, none the less, 
that the outraged wife had presently resorted; the most 
that could be said for her being, as she felt while she 



finally stopped short, at a distance, that she could at 
any rate resist her abjection sufficiently not to sneak 
into the house by another way and safely reach her 
room. She had literally caught herself in the act of 
dodging and ducking, and it told her there, vividly, in 
a single word, what she had all along been most 
afraid of. 

She had been afraid of the particular passage with 
Charlotte that would determine her father's wife to 
take him into her confidence as she couldn't possibly 
as yet have done, to prepare for him a statement of her 
wrong, to lay before him the infamy of what she was 
apparently suspected of. This, should she have made 
up her mind to do it, would rest on a calculation the 
thought of which evoked, strangely, other possibilities 
and visions. It would show her as sufficiently believ 
ing in her grasp of her husband to be able to assure 
herself that, with his daughter thrown on the defen 
sive, with Maggie's cause and Maggie's word, in fine, 
against her own, it wasn't Maggie's that would most 
certainly carry the day. Such a glimpse of her con 
ceivable idea, which would be founded on reasons all 
her own, reasons of experience and assurance, impen 
etrable to others, but intimately familiar to herself 
such a glimpse opened out wide as soon as it had come 
into view ; for if so much as this was still firm ground 
between the elder pair, if the beauty of appearances had 
been so consistently preserved, it was only the golden 
bowl as Maggie herself knew it that had been broken. 
The breakage stood not for any wrought discomposure 
among the triumphant three it stood merely for the 



dire deformity of her attitude toward them. She was 
unable at the minute, of course, fully to measure the 
difference thus involved for her, and it remained in 
evitably an agitating image, the way it might be held 
over her that if she didn't, of her own prudence, sat 
isfy Charlotte as to the reference, in her mocking spirit, 
of so much of the unuttered and unutterable, of the 
constantly and unmistakably implied, her father would 
be invited without further ceremony to recommend 
her to do so. But any confidence, any latent operating 
insolence, that Mrs. Verver should, thanks to her large 
native resources, continue to be possessed of and to 
hold in reserve, glimmered suddenly as a possible 
working light and seemed to offer, for meeting her, a 
new basis and something like a new system. Maggie 
felt, truly, a rare contraction of the heart on making 
out, the next instant, what the new system would prob 
ably have to be and she had practically done that 
before perceiving that the thing she feared had already 
taken place. Charlotte, extending "her search, ap 
peared now to define herself vaguely in the distance; 
of this, after an instant, the Princess was sure, though 
the darkness was thick, for the projected clearness of 
the smoking-room windows had presently contributed 
its help. Her friend came slowly into that circle 
having also, for herself, by this time, not indistin- 
guishably discovered that Maggie was on the terrace. 
Maggie, from the end, saw her stop before one of the 
windows to look at the group within, and then saw her 
come nearer and pause again, still with a considerable 
length of the place between them. 



Yes, Charlotte had seen she was watching her from 
afar, and had stopped now to put her further atten 
tion to the test. Her face was fixed on her, through 
the night; she was the creature who had escaped by 
force from her cage, yet there was in her whole motion 
assuredly, even as so dimly discerned, a kind of por 
tentous intelligent stillness. She had escaped with an 
intention, but with an intention the more definite that 
it could so accord with quiet measures. The two 
women, at all events, only hovered there, for these first 
minutes, face to face over their interval and exchang 
ing no sign; the intensity of their mutual look might 
have pierced the night, and Maggie was at last to start 
with the scared sense of having thus yielded to doubt, 
to dread, to hesitation, for a time that, with no other 
proof needed, would have completely given her away. 
How long had she stood staring ? a single minute or 
five? Long enough, in any case, to have felt herself 
absolutely take from her visitor something that the lat 
ter threw upon her, irresistibly, by this effect of silence, 
by this effect of waiting and watching, by this effect, 
unmistakably, of timing her indecision and her fear. 
If then, scared and hanging back, she had, as was so 
evident, sacrificed all past pretences, it would have been 
with the instant knowledge of an immense advantage 
gained that Charlotte finally saw her come on. Mag 
gie came on with her heart in her hands ; she came on 
with the definite prevision, throbbing like the tick of a 
watch, of a doom impossibly sharp and hard, but to 
which, after looking at it with her eyes wide open, she 
had none the less bowed her head. By the time she 



was at her companion's side, for that matter, by the 
time Charlotte had, without a motion, without a word, 
simply let her approach and stand there, her head was 
already on the block, so that the consciousness that 
everything had now gone blurred all perception of 
whether or no the axe had fallen. Oh, the "advan 
tage," it was perfectly enough, in truth, with Mrs. Ver- 
ver ; for what was Maggie's own sense but that of hav 
ing been thrown over on her back, with her neck, from 
the first, half broken and her helpless face staring up? 
That position only could account for the positive 
grimace of weakness and pain produced there by Char 
lotte's dignity. 

"I've come to join you I thought you would be 

"Oh yes, I'm here," Maggie heard herself return a 
little flatly. 

"It's too close in-doors." 

"Very but close even here." Charlotte was still 
and grave she had even uttered her remark about the 
temperature with an expressive weight that verged 
upon solemnity; so that Maggie, reduced to looking 
vaguely about at the sky, could only feel her not 
fail of her purpose. "The air's heavy as if with thun 
der I think there'll be a storm." She made the 
suggestion to carry off an awkwardness which was a 
part, always, of her companion's gain; but the 
awkwardness didn't diminish in the silence that fol 
lowed. Charlotte had said nothing in reply; her brow 
was dark as with a fixed expression, and her high 
elegance, her handsome head and long, straight neck 


testified, through the dusk, to their inveterate com 
pleteness and noble erectness. It was as if what she 
had come out to do had already begun, and when, 
as a consequence, Maggie had said helplessly, "Don't 
you want something? won't you have my shawl?" 
everything might have crumbled away in the com 
parative poverty of the tribute. Mrs. Verver's 
rejection of it had the brevity of a sign that they 
hadn't closed in for idle words, just as her dim, 
serious face, uninterruptedly presented until they 
moved again, might have represented the success 
with which she watched all her message penetrate. 
They presently went back the way she had come, 
but she stopped Maggie again within range of the 
smoking-room window and made her stand where 
the party at cards would be before her. Side by side, 
for three minutes, they fixed this picture of quiet 
harmonies, the positive charm of it and, as might have 
been said, the full significance which, as was now 
brought home to Maggie, could be no more, after 
all, than a matter of interpretation, differing always 
for a different interpreter. As she herself had 
hovered in sight of it a quarter-of-an-hour before, it 
would have been a thing for her to show Charlotte 
to show in righteous irony, in reproach too stern 
for anything but silence. But now it was she who 
was being shown it, and shown it by Charlotte, and 
she saw quickly enough that, as Charlotte showed 
it, so she must at present submissively seem to 
take it. 

The others were absorbed and unconscious, either 


silent over their game or dropping remarks unheard 
on the terrace; and it was to her father's quiet 
face, discernibly expressive of nothing that was 
in his daughter's mind, that our young woman's 
attention was most directly given. His wife and his 
daughter were both closely watching him, and to 
which of them, could he have been notified of 
this, would his raised eyes first, all impulsively, 
have responded; in which of them would he have 
felt it most important to destroy for his clutch 
at the equilibrium any germ of uneasiness? Not 
yet, since his marriage, had Maggie so sharply 
and so formidably known her old possession of him 
as a thing divided and contested. She was looking 
at him by Charlotte's leave and under Charlotte's 
direction; quite in fact as if the particular way she 
should look at him were prescribed to her; quite, 
even, as if she had been defied to look at him in any 
other. It came home to her too that the challenge 
wasn't, as might be said, in his interest and for his 
protection, but, pressingly, insistently, in Charlotte's, 
for that of her security at any price. She might 
verily, by this dumb demonstration, have been naming 
to Maggie the price, naming it as a question for 
Maggie herself, a sum of money that she, properly, 
was to find. She must remain safe and Maggie must 
pay what she was to pay with being her own affair. 
Straighter than ever, thus, the Princess again felt 
it all put upon her, and there was a minute, just a 
supreme instant, during which there burned in her 
a wild wish that her father would only look up. It 



throbbed for these seconds as a yearning appeal to 
him she would chance it, that is, if he would but 
just raise his eyes and catch them, across the larger 
space, standing in the outer dark together. Then 
he might be affected by the sight, taking them as they 
were; he might make some sign she scarce knew 
what that would save her; save her from being the 
one, this way, to pay all. He might somehow show 
a preference distinguishing between them; might, 
out of pity for her, signal to her that this extremity 
of her effort for him was more than he asked. That 
represented Maggie's one little lapse from con 
sistency the sole small deflection in the whole 
course of her scheme. It had come to nothing the 
next minute, for the dear man's eyes had never 
moved, and Charlotte's hand, promptly passed into 
her arm, had already, had very firmly drawn her on 
quite, for that matter, as from some sudden, some 
equal perception on her part too of the more ways 
than one in which their impression could appeal. 
They retraced their steps along the rest of the ter 
race, turning the corner of the house, and presently 
came abreast of the other windows, those of the 
pompous drawing-room, still lighted and still empty. 
Here Charlotte again paused, and it was again as if 
she were pointing out what Maggie had observed for 
herself, the very look the place had of being vivid in 
its stillness, of having, with all its great objects as 
ordered and balanced as for a formal reception, been 
appointed for some high transaction, some real affair 
of state. In presence of this opportunity she faced 



her companion once more; she traced in her the effect 
of everything she had already communicated; she 
signified, with the same success, that the terrace and 
the sullen night would bear too meagre witness to 
the completion of her idea. Soon enough then, 
within the room, under the old lustres of Venice and 
the eyes of the several great portraits, more or less 
contemporary with these, that awaited on the walls 
of Fawns their final far migration soon enough 
Maggie found herself staring, and at first all too 
gaspingly, at the grand total to which each separate 
demand Mrs. Verver had hitherto made upon her, 
however she had made it, now amounted. 

"I've been wanting and longer than you'd per 
haps believe to put a question to you for which no 
opportunity has seemed to me yet quite so good as 
this. It would have been easier perhaps if you had 
struck me as in the least disposed ever to give me 
one. I have to take it now, you see, as I find it." 
They stood in the centre of the immense room, and 
Maggie could feel that the scene .of life her imagina 
tion had made of it twenty minutes before was by 
this time sufficiently peopled. These few straight 
words filled it to its uttermost reaches, and nothing 
was now absent from her consciousness, either, of 
the part she was called upon to play in it. Char 
lotte had marched straight in, dragging her rich 
train; she rose there beautiful and free, with her 
whole aspect and action attuned to the firmness of 
her speech. Maggie had kept the shawl she had 
taken out with her, and, clutching it tight in her 



nervousness, drew it round her as if huddling in it for 
shelter, covering herself with it for humility. She 
looked out as from under an improvised hood the 
sole headgear of some poor woman at somebody's 
proud door; she waited even like the poor woman; 
she met her friend's eyes with recognitions she 
couldn't suppress. She might sound it as she could 
"What question then?" everything in her, from 
head to foot, crowded it upon Charlotte that she 
knew. She knew too well that she was showing; 
so that successful vagueness, to save some scrap of 
her dignity from the imminence of her defeat, was 
already a lost cause, and the one thing left was if 
possible, at any cost, even that of stupid inconse 
quence, to try to look as if she weren't afraid. If she 
could but appear at all not afraid she might ap 
pear a little not ashamed that is not ashamed 
to be afraid, which was the kind of shame that 
could be fastened on her, it being fear all the 
while that moved her. Her challenge, at any rate, 
her wonder, her terror the blank, blurred surface, 
whatever it was that she presented became a mix 
ture that ceased to signify; for to the accumulated 
advantage by which Charlotte was at present sus 
tained her next words themselves had little to add. 
"Have you any ground of complaint of me? Is there 
any wrong you consider I've done you? I feel at 
last that I've a right to ask you." 

Their eyes had to meet on it, and to meet long; 
Maggie's avoided at least the disgrace of looking 
away. "What makes you want to ask it?" 



"My natural desire to know. You've done that, 
for so long, little justice." 

Maggie waited a moment. "For so long? You 
mean you've thought ?" 

"I mean, my dear, that I've seen. I've seen, week 
after week, that you seemed to be thinking of some 
thing that perplexed or worried you. Is it anything 
for which I'm in any degree responsible?" 

Maggie summoned all her powers. "What in the 
world should it be?" 

"Ah, that's not for me to imagine, and I should 
be very sorry to have to try to say! I'm aware of no 
point whatever at which I may have failed you," said 
Charlotte; "nor of any at which I may have failed 
any one in whom I can suppose you sufficiently in 
terested to care. If I've been guilty of some fault 
I've committed it all unconsciously, and am only 
anxious to hear from you honestly about it. But if 
I've been mistaken as to what I speak of the differ 
ence, more and more marked, as I've thought, in 
all your manner to me why, obviously, so much the 
better. No form of correction received from you 
could give me greater satisfaction." 

She spoke, it struck her companion, with rising, 
with extraordinary ease; as if hearing herself say it 
all, besides seeing the way it was listened to, helped 
her from point to point. She saw she was right 
that this was the tone for her to take and the thing 
for her to do, the thing as to which she was prob 
ably feeling that she had in advance, in her delays 
and uncertainties, much exaggerated the difficulty. 



The difficulty was small, and it grew smaller as her 
adversary continued to shrink; she was not only 
doing as she wanted, but had by this time effectively 
done it and hung it up. All of which but deepened 
Maggie's sense of the sharp and simple need, now, of 
seeing her through to the end. " 'If you've been 
mistaken, you say?" and the Princess but barely 
faltered. "You have been mistaken." 

Charlotte looked at her splendidly hard. "You're 
perfectly sure it's all my mistake?" 

"All I can say is that you've received a false im 

"Ah then so much the better! From the moment 
I had received it I knew I must sooner or later speak 
of it for that, you see, is, systematically, my way. 
And now," Charlotte added, "you make me glad I've 
spoken. I thank you very much." 

It was strange how for Maggie too, with this, 
the difficulty seemed to sink. Her companion's ac 
ceptance of her denial was like a general pledge not 
to keep things any worse for her than they essentially 
had to be; it positively helped her to build up her 
falsehood to which, accordingly, she contributed 
another block. "I've affected you evidently quite 
accidentally in some way of which I've been all 
unaware. I've not felt at any time that you've 
wronged me." 

"How could I come within a mile," Charlotte in 
quired, "of such a possibility?" 

Maggie, with her eyes on her more easily now, 
made no attempt to say; she said, after a little, some- 



thing more to the present point. "I accuse you 
I accuse you of nothing." 

"Ah, that's lucky!" 

Charlotte had brought this out with the richness, 
almost, of gaiety; and Maggie, to go on, had to 
think, with her own intensity, of Amerigo to think 
how he, on his side, had had to go through with his 
lie to her, how it was for his wife he had done so, 
and how his doing so had given her the clue and set 
her the example. He must have had his own dif 
ficulty about it, and she was not, after all, falling be 
low him. It was in fact as if, thanks to her hovering 
image of him confronted with this admirable creature 
even as she was confronted, there glowed upon her 
from afar, yet straight and strong, a deep explan 
atory light which covered the last inch of the ground. 
He had given her something to conform to, and she 
hadn't unintelligently turned on him, "gone back on" 
him, as he would have said, by not conforming. They 
were together thus, he and she, close, close together 
whereas Charlotte, though rising there radiantly 
before her, was really off in some darkness of space 
that would steep her in solitude and harass her with 
care. The heart of the Princess swelled, accordingly, 
even in her abasement; she had kept in tune with the 
right, and something, certainly, something that might 
be like a rare flower snatched from an impossible 
ledge, would, and possibly soon, come of it for her. 
The right, the right yes, it took this extraordinary 
form of her humbugging, as she had called it, to the 
end. It was only a question of not, by a hair's breadth, 
VOL. ii. 17 257 


deflecting into the truth. So, supremely, was she 
braced. "You must take it from me that your 
anxiety rests quite on a misconception. You must 
take it from me that I've never at any moment fan 
cied I could suffer by you." And, marvellously, she 
kept it up not only kept it up, but improved on it. 
"You must take it from me that I've never thought 
of you but as beautiful, wonderful and good. Which 
is all, I think, that you can possibly ask." 

Charlotte held her a moment longer: she needed 
not then to have appeared only tactless the last 
word. "It's much more, my dear, than I dreamed 
of asking. I only wanted your denial." 

"Well then, you have it." 

"Upon your honour?" 

"Upon my honour." 

And she made a point even, our young woman, 
of not turning away. Her grip of her shawl had 
loosened she had let it fall behind her; but she stood 
there for anything more and till the weight should 
be lifted. With which she saw soon enough what 
more was to come. She saw it in Charlotte's face, 
and felt it make between them, in the air, a chill 
that completed the coldness of their conscious 
perjury. "Will you kiss me on it then?" 

She couldn't say yes, but she didn't say no; what 
availed her still, however, was to measure, in her 
passivity, how much too far Charlotte had come to 
retreat. But there was something different also, 
something for which, while her cheek received the 
prodigious kiss, she had her opportunity the sight 



of the others, who, having risen from their cards to 
join the absent members of their party, had reached 
the open door at the end of the room and stopped 
short, evidently, in presence of the demonstration 
that awaited them. Her husband and her father were 
in front, and Charlotte's embrace of her which 
wasn't to be distinguished, for them, either, she felt, 
from her embrace of Charlotte took on with their 
arrival a high publicity. 



HER father had asked her, three days later, in an 
interval of calm, how she was affected, in the light 
of their reappearance and of their now perhaps richer 
fruition, by Dotty and Kitty, and by the once for 
midable Mrs. Ranee; and the consequence of this 
inquiry had been, for the pair, just such another stroll 
together, away from the rest of the party and off 
into the park, as had asserted its need to them on 
the occasion of the previous visit of these anciently 
more agitating friends that of their long talk, on 
a sequestered bench beneath one of the great trees, 
when the particular question had come up for them 
the then purblind discussion of which, at their en 
joyed leisure, Maggie had formed the habit of 
regarding as the "first beginning" of their present 
situation. The whirligig of time had thus brought 
round for them again, on their finding themselves 
face to face while the others were gathering for tea 
on the terrace, the same odd impulse quietly to 
"slope" so Adam Verver himself, as they went, fa 
miliarly expressed it that had acted, in its way, of 
old; acted for the distant autumn afternoon and for 
the sharpness of their since so outlived crisis. It 
might have been funny to them now that the pres- 



ence of Mrs. Ranee and the Lutches and with 
symptoms, too, at that time less developed had 
once, for their anxiety and their prudence, consti 
tuted a crisis; it might have been funny that these 
ladies could ever have figured, to their imagination, 
as a symbol of dangers vivid enough to precipitate 
the need of a remedy. This amount of entertainment 
and assistance they were indeed disposed to extract 
from their actual impressions; they had been finding 
it, for months past, by Maggie's view, a resource and 
a relief to talk, with an approach to intensity, when 
they met, of all the people they weren't really think 
ing of and didn't really care about, the people with 
whom their existence had begun almost to swarm; 
and they closed in at present round the spectres of 
their past, as they permitted themselves to describe 
the three ladies, with a better imitation of enjoying 
their theme than they had been able to achieve, cer 
tainly, during the stay, for instance, of the Castle- 
deans. The Castledeans were a new joke, compar 
atively, and they had had always to Maggie's view 
to teach themselves the way of it; whereas the 
Detroit, the Providence party, rebounding so from 
Providence, from Detroit, was an old and ample one, 
of which the most could be made and as to which a 
humorous insistence could be guarded. 

Sharp and sudden, moreover, this afternoon, had 
been their wellnigh confessed desire just to rest to 
gether, a little, as from some strain long felt but never 
named; to rest, as who should say, shoulder to shoul 
der and hand in hand, each pair of eyes so yearningly 



and indeed what could it be but so wearily? closed 
as to render the collapse safe from detection by the 
other pair. It was positively as if, in short, the in 
ward felicity of their being once more, perhaps only 
for half-an-hour, simply daughter and father had 
glimmered out for them, and they had picked up the 
pretext that would make it easiest. They were hus 
band and wife oh, so immensely! as regards other 
persons; but after they had dropped again on their 
old bench, conscious that the party on the terrace, 
augmented, as in the past, by neighbours, would do 
beautifully without them, it was wonderfully like 
their having got together into some boat and pad 
dled off from the shore where husbands and wives, 
luxuriant complications, made the air too tropical. 
In the boat they were father and daughter, and poor 
Dotty and Kitty supplied abundantly, for their sit 
uation, the oars or the sail. Why, into the bargain, 
for that matter this came to Maggie couldn't they 
always live, so far as they lived together, in a boat? 
She felt in her face, with the question, the breath of 
a possibility that soothed her; they needed only know 
each other, henceforth, in the unmarried relation. 
That other sweet evening, in the same place, he had 
been as unmarried as possible which had kept down, 
so to speak, the quantity of change in their state. 
Well then, that other sweet evening was what the 
present sweet evening would resemble; with the quite 
calculable effect of an exquisite inward refreshment. 
They had, after all, whatever happened, always and 
ever each other; each other that was the hidden 



treasure and the saving truth to do exactly what 
they would with: a provision full of possibilities. 
Who could tell, as yet, what, thanks to it, they 
wouldn't have done before the end? 

They had meanwhile been tracing together, in the 
golden air that, toward six o'clock of a July after 
noon, hung about the massed Kentish woods, several 
features of the social evolution of her old playmates, 
still beckoned on, it would seem, by unattainable 
ideals, still falling back, beyond the sea, to their na 
tive seats, for renewals of the moral, financial, 
conversational one scarce knew what to call it 
outfit, and again and forever reappearing like a tribe 
of Wandering Jewesses. Our couple had finally ex 
hausted, however, the study of these annals, and 
Maggie was to take up, after a drop, a different mat 
ter, or one at least with which the immediate 
connection was not at first apparent. "Were you 
amused at me just now when I wondered what other 
people could wish to struggle for? Did you think 
me," she asked with some earnestness "well, 

" 'Fatuous'?" he seemed at a loss. 

"I mean sublime in our happiness as if looking 
down from a height. Or, rather, sublime in our gen 
eral position that's what I mean." She spoke as 
from the habit of her anxious conscience something 
that disposed her frequently to assure herself, for her 
human commerce, of the state of the "books" of the 
spirit. "Because I don't at all want," she explained, 
"to be blinded, or made 'sniffy,' by any sense of a 



social situation." Her father listened to this declara 
tion as if the precautions of her general mercy could 
still, as they betrayed themselves, have surprises for 
him to say nothing of a charm of delicacy and 
beauty; he might have been wishing to see how far 
she could go and where she would, all touchingly 
to him, arrive. But she waited a little as if made 
nervous, precisely, by feeling him depend too much 
on what she said. They were avoiding the serious, 
standing off, anxiously, from the real, and they fell, 
again and again, as if to disguise their precaution 
itself, into the tone of the time that came back to them 
from their other talk, when they had shared together 
this same refuge. "Don't you remember," she went 
on, "how, when they were here before, I broke it to 
you that I wasn't so very sure we ourselves had the 
thing itself?" 

He did his best to do so. "Had, you mean a so 
cial situation?" 

"Yes after Fanny Assingham had first broken it 
to me that, at the rate we were going, we should 
never have one." 

"Which was what put us on Charlotte?" Oh yes, 
they had had it over quite often enough for him 
easily to remember. 

Maggie had another pause taking it from him 
that he now could both affirm and admit without 
wincing that they had been, at their critical moment, 
"put on" Charlotte. It was as if this recognition 
had been threshed out between them as fundamental 
to the honest view of their success. "Well," she con- 



tinued, "I recall how I felt, about Kitty and Dotty, 
that even if we had already then been more 'placed,' 
or whatever you may call what we are now, it still 
wouldn't have been an excuse for wondering why 
others couldn't obligingly leave me more exalted by 
having, themselves, smaller ideas. For those," she 
said, "were the feelings we used to have." 

"Oh yes," he responded philosophically "I re 
member the feelings we used to have." 

Maggie appeared to wish to plead for them a little, 
in tender retrospect as if they had been also re 
spectable. "It was bad enough, I thought, to have 
no sympathy in your heart when you had a position. 
But it was worse to be sublime about it as I was 
so afraid, as I'm in fact still afraid of being when 
it wasn't even there to support one." And she put 
forth again the earnestness she might have been tak 
ing herself as having outlived; became for it which 
was doubtless too often even now her danger almost 
sententious. "One must always, whether or no, have 
some imagination of the states of others of what 
they may feel deprived of. However," she added, 
"Kitty and Dotty couldn't imagine we were deprived 

of anything. And now, and now !" But she 

stopped as for indulgence to their wonder and envy. 

"And now they see, still more, that we can have 
got everything, and kept everything, and yet not be 

"No, we're not proud," she answered after a mo 
ment. "I'm not sure that we're quite proud enough." 
Yet she changed the next instant that subject too. 



She could only do so, however, by harking back 
as if it had been a fascination. She might have been 
wishing, under this renewed, this still more suggestive 
visitation, to keep him with her for remounting the 
stream of time and dipping again, for the softness 
of the water, into the contracted basin of the past. 
"We talked about it we talked about it; you don't 
remember so well as I. You too didn't know and 
it was beautiful of you; like Kitty and Dotty you too 
thought we had a position, and were surprised when 
/ thought we ought to have told them we weren't 
doing for them what they supposed. In fact," Mag 
gie pursued, "we're not doing it now. We're not, 
you see, really introducing them. I mean not to the 
people they want." 

"Then what do you call the people with whom 
they're now having tea?" 

It made her quite spring round. "That's just what 
you asked me the other time one of the days there 
was somebody. And I told you I didn't call anybody 

"I remember that such people, the people we 
made so welcome, didn't 'count'; that Fanny Assing- 
ham knew they didn't." She had awakened, his 
daughter, the echo; and on the bench there, as before, 
he nodded his head amusedly, he kept nervously 
shaking his foot. "Yes, they were only good enough 
the people who came for us. I remember," he 
said again: "that was the way it all happened." 

"That was the way that was the way. And you 
asked me," Maggie added, "if I didn't think we ought 



to tell them. Tell Mrs. Ranee, in particular, I mean, 
that we had been entertaining her up to then under 
false pretences." 

"Precisely but you said she wouldn't have under 

"To which you replied that in that case you were 
like her. You didn't understand." 

"No, no but I remember how, about our having, 
in our benighted innocence, no position, you quite 
crushed me with your explanation." 

"Well then," said Maggie with every appearance 
of delight, "I'll crush you again. I told you that you 
by yourself had one there was no doubt of that. 
You were different from me you had the same one 
you always had." 

"And then I asked you," her father concurred, "why 
in that case you hadn't the same." 

"Then indeed you did." He had brought her face 
round to him before, and this held it, covering him 
with its kindled brightness, the result of the attested 
truth of their being able thus, in talk, to live again 
together. "What I replied was that I had lost my 
position by my marriage. That one I know how I 
saw it would never come back. I had done some 
thing to it I didn't quite know what; given it away, 
somehow, and yet not, as then appeared, really got 
my return. I had been assured always by dear 
Fanny that I could get it, only I must wake up. 
So I was trying, you see, to wake up trying very 

"Yes and to a certain extent you succeeded; as 


also in waking me. But you made much," he said, 
"of your difficulty." To which he added: "It's the 
only case I remember, Mag, of you ever making 
anything of a difficulty." 

She kept her eyes on him a moment. "That I was 
so happy as I was?" 

"That you were so happy as you were." 

"Well, you admitted" Maggie kept it up "that 
that was a good difficulty. You confessed that our 
life did seem to be beautiful." 

He thought a moment. "Yes I may very well 
have confessed it, for so it did seem to me." But he 
guarded himself with his dim, his easier smile. "What 
do you want to put on me now?" 

"Only that we used to wonder that we were won 
dering then if our life wasn't perhaps a little selfish." 

This also for a time, much at his leisure, Adam 
Verver retrospectively fixed. "Because Fanny As- 
singham thought so?" 

"Oh no; she never thought, she couldn't think, if 
she would, anything of that sort. She only thinks 
people are sometimes fools," Maggie developed; "she 
doesn't seem to think so much about their being 
wrong wrong, that is, in the sense of being wicked. 
She doesn't," the Princess further adventured, 
"quite so much mind their being wicked." 

"I see I see." And yet it might have been for 
his daughter that he didn't so very vividly see. "Then 
she only thought us fools?" 

"Oh no I don't say that. I'm speaking of our 
being selfish." 



"And that comes under the head of the wickedness 
Fanny condones?" 

"Oh, I don't say she condones /" A scruple in 

Maggie raised its crest. "Besides, I'm speaking of 
what was." 

Her father showed, however, after a little, that he 
had not been reached by this discrimination; his 
thoughts were resting for the moment where they 
had settled. "Look here, Mag," he said reflectively 
"I ain't selfish. I'll be blowed if I'm selfish." 

Well, Maggie, if he would talk of that, could also 
pronounce. "Then, father, / am." 

"Oh shucks!" said Adam Verver, to whom the ver 
nacular, in moments of deepest sincerity, could thus 
come back. "I'll believe it," he presently added, 
"when Amerigo complains of you." 

"Ah, it's just he who's my selfishness. I'm selfish, 
so to speak, for him. I mean," she continued, "that 
he's my motive in everything." 

Well, her father could, from experience, fancy what 
she meant. "But hasn't a girl a right to be selfish 
about her husband?" 

"What I don't mean," she observed without an 
swering, "is that I'm jealous of him. But that's his 
merit it's not mine." 

Her father again seemed amused at her. "You 
could be otherwise?" 

"Oh, how can I talk," she asked, "of 'otherwise'? 
It isn't, luckily for me, otherwise. If everything were 
different" she further presented her thought "of 
course everything would be." And then again, as -if 



that were but half: "My idea is this, that when you 
only love a little you're naturally not jealous or are 
only jealous also a little, so that it doesn't matter. 
But when you love in a deeper and intenser way, then 
you are, in the same proportion, jealous; your jeal 
ousy has intensity and, no doubt, ferocity. When, 
however, you love in the most abysmal and unutter 
able way of all why then you're beyond everything, 
and nothing can pull you down." 

Mr. Verver listened as if he had nothing, on these 
high lines, to oppose. "And that's the way you love?" 

For a minute she failed to speak, but at last she 
answered: "It wasn't to talk about that. I do feel, 
however, beyond everything and as a consequence 
of that, I dare say," she added with a turn to gaiety, 
"seem often not to know quite where I am." 

The mere fine pulse of passion in it, the suggestion 
as of a creature consciously floating and shining in 
a warm summer sea, some element of dazzling 
sapphire and silver, a creature cradled upon depths, 
buoyant among dangers, in which fear or folly, or 
sinking otherwise than in play, was impossible 
something of all this might have been making once 
more present to him, with his discreet, his half shy 
assent to it, her probable enjoyment of a rapture 
that he, in his day, had presumably convinced no great 
number of persons either of his giving or of his re 
ceiving. He sat awhile as if he knew himself hushed, 
almost admonished, and not for the first time; yet 
it was an effect that might have brought before him 
rather what she had gained than what he had missed. 



Besides, who but himself really knew what he, after 
all, hadn't, or even had, gained? The beauty of her 
condition was keeping him, at any rate, as he might 
feel, in sight of the sea, where, though his personal 
dips were over, the whole thing could shine at him, 
and the air and the plash and the play become for 
him too a sensation. That couldn't be fixed upon 
him as missing; since if it wasn't personally floating, 
if it wasn't even sitting in the sand, it could yet pass 
very well for breathing the bliss, in a communicated 
irresistible way for tasting the balm. It could 
pass, further, for knowing for knowing that without 
him nothing might have been: which would have 
been missing least of all. "I guess I've never been 
jealous," he finally remarked. And it said more to 
her, he had occasion next to perceive, than he was 
intending; for it made her, as by the pressure of a 
spring, give him a look that seemed to tell of things 
she couldn't speak. 

But she at last tried for one of them. "Oh, it's 
you, father, who are what I call beyond everything. 
Nothing can pull you down." 

He returned the look as with the sociability of 
their easy communion, though inevitably throwing 
in this time a shade of solemnity. He might have 
been seeing things to say, and others, whether of a 
type presumptuous or not, doubtless better kept 
back. So he settled on the merely obvious. "Well 
then, we make a pair. We're all right." 

"Oh, we're all right!" A declaration launched not 
only with all her discriminating emphasis, but con- 



firmed by her rising with decision and standing there 
as if the object of their small excursion required ac 
cordingly no further pursuit. At this juncture, 
however with the act of their crossing the bar, to 
get, as might be, into port there occurred the only 
approach to a betrayal of their having had to beat 
against the wind. Her father kept his place, and it 
was as if she had got over first and were pausing 
for her consort to follow. If they were all right, 
they were all right; yet he seemed to hesitate and 
wait for some word beyond. His eyes met her own, 
suggestively, and it was only after she had contented 
herself with simply smiling at him, smiling ever so 
fixedly, that he spoke, for the remaining importance 
of it, from the bench; where he leaned back, raising 
his face to her, his legs thrust out a trifle wearily and 
his hands grasping either side of the seat. They had 
beaten against the wind, and she was still fresh; they 
had beaten against the wind, and he, as at the best 
the more battered vessel, perhaps just vaguely 
drooped. But the effect of their silence was that she 
appeared to beckon him on, and he might have been 
fairly alongside of her when, at the end of another 
minute, he found their word. "The only thing is 
that, as for ever putting up again with your pre 
tending that you're selfish !" 

At this she helped him out with it. "You won't 
take it from me?" 

"I won't take it from you." 

"Well, of course you won't, for that's your way. 
It doesn't matter, and it only proves ! But it 


doesn't matter, either, what it proves. I'm at this 
very moment," she declared, "frozen stiff with self 

He faced her awhile longer in the same way; it 
was, strangely, as if, by this sudden arrest, by their 
having, in their acceptance of the unsaid, or at least 
their reference to it, practically given up pretending 
it was as if they were "in" for it, for something they 
had been ineffably avoiding, but the dread of which 
was itself, in a manner, a seduction, just as any con 
fession of the dread was by so much an allusion. 
Then she seemed to see him let himself go. "When 
a person's of the nature you speak of there are always 
other persons to suffer. But you've just been de 
scribing to me what you'd take, if you had once a 
good chance, from your husband." 

"Oh, I'm not talking about my husband!" 
"Then whom are you talking about?" 
Both the retort and the rejoinder had come quicker 
than anything previously exchanged, and they were 
followed, on Maggie's part, by a momentary drop. 
But she was not to fall away, and while her com 
panion kept his eyes on her, while she wondered if 
he weren't expecting her to name his wife then, with 
high hypocrisy, as paying for his daughter's bliss, 
she produced something that she felt to be much 
better. "I'm talking about you." 

"Do you mean I've been your victim?" 
"Of course you've been my victim. What have 
you done, ever done, that hasn't been for me?" 

"Many things; more than I can tell you things 
VOL. II. 18 273 


you've only to think of for yourself. What do you 
make of all that I've done for myself?" 

"'Yourself? " She brightened out with de 

"What do you make of what I've done for Amer 
ican City?" 

It took her but a moment to say. "I'm not talking 
of you as a public character I'm talking of you on 
your personal side." 

"Well, American City if 'personalities' can do it 
has given me a pretty personal side. What do you 
make," he went on, "of what I've done for my rep 

"Your reputation there? You've given it up to 
them, the awful people, for less than nothing; you've 
given it up to them to tear to pieces, to make their 
horrible vulgar jokes against you with." 

"Ah, my dear, I don't care for their horrible vulgar 
jokes," Adam Verver almost artlessly urged. 

"Then there, exactly, you are!" she triumphed. 
"Everything that touches you, everything that sur 
rounds you, goes on by your splendid indiffer 
ence and your incredible permission at your ex 

Just as he had been sitting he looked at her an 
instant longer; then he slowly rose, while his hands 
stole into his pockets, and stood there before her. 
"Of course, my dear, you go on at my expense: it 
has never been my idea," he smiled, "that you should 
work for your living. I wouldn't have liked to see it." 
With which, for a little again, they remained face to 



face. "Say therefore I have had the feelings of a 
father. How have they made me a victim?" 

"Because I sacrifice you." 

"But to what in the world?" 

At this it hung before her that she should have 
had as never yet her opportunity to say, and it held 
her for a minute as in a vise, her impression of his 
now, with his strained smile, which touched her to 
deepest depths, sounding her in his secret unrest. 
This was the moment, in the whole process of their 
mutual vigilance, in which it decidedly most hung 
by a hair that their thin wall might be pierced by the 
lightest wrong touch. It shook between them, this 
transparency, with their very breath; it was an ex 
quisite tissue, but stretched on a frame, and would 
give way the next instant if either so much as 
breathed too hard. She held her breath, for she knew 
by his eyes, the light at the heart of which he couldn't 
blind, that he was, by his intention, making sure 
sure whether or no her certainty was like his. The 
intensity of his dependence on it at that moment 
this itself was what absolutely convinced her so that, 
as if perched up before him on her vertiginous point 
and in the very glare of his observation, she balanced 
for thirty seconds, she almost rocked: she might have 
been for the time, in all her conscious person, the 
very form of the equilibrium they were, in their dif 
ferent ways, equally trying to save. And they were 
saving it yes, they were, or at least she was: that 
was still the workable issue, she could say, as she 
felt her dizziness drop. She held herself hard; the 



thing was to be done, once for all, by her acting, 
now, where she stood. So much was crowded into 
so short a space that she knew already she was keep 
ing her head. She had kept it by the warning of his 
eyes; she shouldn't lose it again; she knew how and 
why, and if she had turned cold this was precisely 
what helped her. He had said to himself "She'll 
break down and name Amerigo; she'll say it's to him 
she's sacrificing me; and it's by what that will give 
me with so many other things too that my sus 
picion will be clinched." He was watching her lips, 
spying for the symptoms of the sound; whereby these 
symptoms had only to fail and he would have got 
nothing that she didn't measure out to him as she 
gave it. She had presently in fact so recovered 
herself that she seemed to know she could more 
easily have made him name his wife than he have 
made her name her husband. It was there before 
her that if she should so much as force him just not 
consciously to avoid saying "Charlotte, Charlotte" 
he would have given himself away. But to be sure 
of this was enough for her, and she saw more clearly 
with each lapsing instant what they were both doing. 
He was doing what he had steadily been coming to; 
he was practically offering himself, pressing himself 
upon her, as a sacrifice he had read his way so into 
her best possibility; and where had she already, for 
weeks and days past, planted her feet if not on her 
acceptance of the offer? Cold indeed, colder and 
colder she turned, as she felt herself suffer this close 
personal vision of his attitude still not to make her 



weaken. That was her very certitude, the intensity 
of his pressure; for if something dreadful hadn't hap 
pened there wouldn't, for either of them, be these 
dreadful things to do. She had meanwhile, as well, 
the immense advantage that she could have named 
Charlotte without exposing herself as, for that mat 
ter, she was the next minute showing him. 

"Why, I sacrifice you, simply, to everything and 
to every one. I take the consequences of your mar 
riage as perfectly natural." 

He threw back his head a little, settling with one 
hand his eyeglass. "What do you call, my dear, the 

"Your life as your marriage has made it." 

"Well, hasn't it made it exactly what we wanted?" 

She just hesitated, then felt herself steady oh, 
beyond what she had dreamed. "Exactly what / 
wanted yes." 

His eyes, through his straightened glasses, were 
still on hers, and he might, with his intenser fixed 
smile, have been knowing she was, for herself, rightly 
inspired. "What do you make then of what I 

"I don't make anything, any more than of what 
you've got. That's exactly the point. I don't put 
myself out to do so I never have; I take from 
you all I can get, all you've provided for me, and I 
leave you to make of your own side of the matter 
what you can. There you are the rest is your own 
affair. I don't even pretend to concern myself !" 

"To concern yourself ?" He watched her as 



she faintly faltered, looking about her now so as not 
to keep always meeting his face. 

"With what may have really become of you. It's 
as if we had agreed from the first not to go into that 
such an arrangement being of course charming for 
me. You can't say, you know, that I haven't stuck 
to it." 

He didn't say so then even with the opportunity 
given him of her stopping once more to catch her 
breath. He said instead: "Oh, my dear oh, oh!" 

But it made no difference, know as she might what 
a past still so recent and yet so distant it alluded 
to; she repeated her denial, warning him off, on her 
side, from spoiling the truth of her contention. "I 
never went into anything, and you see I don't; I've 
continued to adore you but what's that, from a 
decent daughter to such a father? what but a ques 
tion of convenient arrangement, our having two 
houses, three houses, instead of one (you would have 
arranged for fifty if I had wished!) and my making 
it easy for you to see the child? You don't claim, 
I suppose, that my natural course, once you had set 
up for yourself, would have been to ship you back 
to American City?" 

These were direct inquiries, they quite rang out, 
in the soft, wooded air; so that Adam Verver, for 
a minute, appeared to meet them with reflection. 
She saw reflection, however, quickly enough show 
him what to do with them. "Do you know, Mag, 
what you make me wish when you talk that way?" 
And he waited again, while she further got from him 



the sense of something that had been behind, deeply 
in the shade, coming cautiously to the front and just 
feeling its way before presenting itself. "You reg 
ularly make me wish that I had shipped back to 

American City. When you go on as you do " 

But he really had to hold himself to say it. 

"Well, when I go on ?" 

"Why, you make me quite want to ship back 
myself. You make me quite feel as if American City 
would be the best place for us." 

It made her all too finely vibrate. "For 'us' ?" 

"For me and Charlotte. Do you know that if we 
should ship, it would serve you quite right?" With 
which he smiled oh he smiled! "And if you say 
much more we will ship." 

Ah, then it was that the cup of her conviction, 
full to the brim, overflowed at a touch! There was 
his idea, the clearness of which for an instant almost 
dazzled her. It was a blur of light, in the midst of 
which she saw Charlotte like some object marked, 
by contrast, in blackness, saw her waver in the field 
of vision, saw her removed, transported, doomed. 
And he had named Charlotte, named her again, and 
she had made him which was all she had needed 
more: it was as if she had held a blank letter to the 
fire and the writing had come out still larger than 
she hoped. The recognition of it took her some 
seconds, but she might when she spoke have been 
folding up these precious lines and restoring them 
to her pocket. "Well, I shall be as much as ever 
then the cause of what you do. I haven't the least 



doubt of your being up to that if you should think 
I might get anything out of it; even the little 
pleasure," she laughed, "of having said, as you call 
it, 'more.' Let my enjoyment of this therefore, at 
any price, continue to represent for you what / call 
sacrificing you." 

She had drawn a long breath; she had made him 
do it all for her, and had lighted the way to it 
without his naming her husband. That silence had 
been as distinct as the sharp, the inevitable sound, 
and something now, in him, followed it up, a sudden 
air as of confessing at last fully to where she was and 
of begging the particular question. "Don't you 
think then I can take care of myself?" 

"Ah, it's exactly what I've gone upon. If it wasn't 
for that !" 

But she broke off, and they remained only another 
moment face to face. "I'll let you know, my dear, 
the day 7 feel you've begun to sacrifice me." 

" 'Begun'?" she extravagantly echoed. 

"Well, it will be, for me, the day you've ceased to 
believe in me." 

With which, his glasses still fixed on her, his hands 
in his pockets, his hat pushed back, his legs a little 
apart, he seemed to plant or to square himself for a 
kind of assurance it had occurred to him he might as 
well treat her to, in default of other things, before they 
changed their subject. It had the effect, for her, of 
a reminder a reminder of all he was, of all he had 
done, of all, above and beyond his being her perfect 
little father, she might take him as representing, take 



him as having, quite eminently, in the eyes of two 
hemispheres, been capable of, and as therefore wish 
ing, not was it? illegitimately, to call her attention 
to. The "successful," beneficent person, the beautiful, 
bountiful, original, dauntlessly wilful great citizen, the 
consummate collector and infallible high authority 
he had been and still was these things struck her, 
on the spot, as making up for him, in a wonderful 
way, a character she must take into account in 
dealing with him either for pity or for envy. He 
positively, under the impression, seemed to loom 
larger than life for her, so that she saw him during 
these moments in a light of recognition which had 
had its brightness for her at many an hour of the past, 
but which had never been so intense and so almost 
admonitory. His very quietness was part of it now, 
as always part of everything, of his success, his ori 
ginality, his modesty, his exquisite public perversity, 
his inscrutable, incalculable energy; and this quality 
perhaps it might be all the more too as the result, 
for the present occasion, of an admirable, traceable 
effort that placed him in her eyes as no precious 
work of art probably had ever been placed in his 
own. There was a long moment, absolutely, during 
which her impression rose and rose, even as that of 
the typical charmed gazer, in the still museum, 
before the named and dated object, the pride of the 
catalogue, that time has polished and consecrated. 
Extraordinary, in particular, was the number of the 
different ways in which he thus affected her as show 
ing. He was strong that was the great thing. He 



was sure sure for himself, always, whatever his idea: 
the expression of that in him had somehow never 
appeared more identical with his proved taste for the 
rare and the true. But what stood out beyond every 
thing was that he was always, marvellously, young 
which couldn't but crown, at this juncture, his whole 
appeal to her imagination. Before she knew it she 
was lifted aloft by the consciousness that he was 
simply a great and deep and high little man, and 
that to love him with tenderness was not to be dis 
tinguished, a whit, from loving him with pride. It. 
came to her, all strangely, as a sudden, an immense 
relief. The sense that he wasn't a failure, and could 
never be, purged their predicament of every mean 
ness made it as if they had really emerged, in their 
transmuted union, to smile almost without pain. It 
was like a new confidence, and after another instant 
she knew even still better why. Wasn't it because 
now, also, on his side, he was thinking of her as his 
daughter, was trying her, during these mute seconds, 
as the child of his blood? Oh then, if she wasn't with 
her little conscious passion, the child of any weak 
ness, what was she but strong enough too? It 
swelled in her, fairly; it raised her higher, higher: she 
wasn't in that case a failure either hadn't been, but 
the contrary; his strength was her strength, her pride 
was his, and they were decent and competent to 
gether. This was all in the answer she finally made 

"I believe in you more than any one." 

"Than any one at all?" 



She hesitated, for all it might mean; but there was 
oh a thousand times! no doubt of it. "Than 
any one at all." She kept nothing of it back now, 
met his eyes over it, let him have the whole of it; 
after which she went on: "And that's the way, I 
think, you believe in me." 

He looked at her a minute longer, but his tone at 
last was right. "About the way yes." 

"Well then ?" She spoke as for the end and 

for other matters for anything, everything, else 
there might be. They would never return to it. 

"Well then !" His hands came out, and while 

her own took them he drew her to his breast and held 
her. He held her hard and kept her long, and she 
let herself go; but it was an embrace that, august and 
almost stern, produced, for all its intimacy, no revul 
sion and broke into no inconsequence of tears. 



MAGGIE was to feel, after this passage, how they had 
both been helped through it by the influence of that 
accident of her having been caught, a few nights 
before, in the familiar embrace of her father's wife. 
His return to the saloon had chanced to coincide ex 
actly with this demonstration, missed moreover neither 
by her husband nor by the Assinghams, who, their 
card-party suspended, had quitted the billiard-room 
with him. She had been conscious enough at the time 
of what such an impression, received by the others, 
might, in that extended state, do for her case; and 
none the less that, as no one had appeared to wish to 
be the first to make a remark about it, it had taken on 
perceptibly the special shade of consecration conferred 
by unanimities of silence. The effect, she might have 
considered, had been almost awkward the prompti 
tude of her separation from Charlotte, as if they had 
been discovered in some absurdity, on her becoming 
aware of spectators. The spectators, on the other 
hand that was the appearance mightn't have sup 
posed them, in the existing relation, addicted to mutual 
endearments; and yet, hesitating with a fine scruple 
between sympathy and hilarity, must have felt that 
almost any spoken or laughed comment could be kept 
from sounding vulgar only by sounding, beyond any 



permitted measure, intelligent. They had evidently 
looked, the two young wives, like a pair of women 
"making up" effusively, as women were supposed to 
do, especially when approved fools, after a broil; but 
taking note of the reconciliation would imply, on her 
father's part, on Amerigo's, and on Fanny Assing- 
ham's, some proportionate vision of the grounds of 
their difference. There had been something, there had 
been but too much, in the incident, for each observer; 
yet there was nothing any one could have said without 
seeming essentially to say : "See, see, the dear things 
their quarrel's blissfully over!" "Our quarrel? 
What quarrel ?" the dear things themselves would nec 
essarily, in that case, have demanded ; and the wits of 
the others would thus have been called upon for some 
agility of exercise. No one had been equal to the flight 
of producing, off-hand, a fictive reason for any es 
trangement to take, that is, the place of the true, 
which had so long, for the finer sensibility, pervaded 
the air; and every one, accordingly, not to be incon 
veniently challenged, was pretending, immediately 
after, to have remarked nothing that any one else 

Maggie's own measure had remained, all the same, 
full of the reflection caught from the total inference ; 
which had acted, virtually, by enabling every one pres 
ent and oh Charlotte not least! to draw a long 
breath. The message of the little scene had been dif 
ferent for each, but it had been this, markedly, all 
round, that it reinforced reinforced even immensely 
the general effort, carried on from week to week and 



of late distinctly more successful, to look and talk and 
move as if nothing in life were the matter. Su 
premely, however, while this glass was held up to her, 
had Maggie's sense turned to the quality of the suc 
cess constituted, on the spot, for Charlotte. Most of 
all, if she was guessing how her father must have 
secretly started, how her husband must have secretly 
wondered, how Fanny Assingham must have secretly, 
in a flash, seen daylight for herself most of all had 
she tasted, by communication, of the high profit in 
volved for her companion. She felt, in all her pulses, 
Charlotte feel it, and how publicity had been required, 
absolutely, to crown her own abasement. It was the 
added touch, and now nothing was wanting which, 
to do her stepmother justice, Mrs. Verver had appeared 
but to desire, from that evening, to show, with the last 
vividness, that she recognised. Maggie lived over 
again the minutes in question had found herself re 
peatedly doing so; to the degree that the whole even 
ing hung together, to her aftersense, as a thing ap 
pointed by sonie occult power that had dealt with her, 
that had for instance animated the four with just the 
right restlessness too, had decreed and directed and 
exactly timed it in them, making their game of bridge 
however abysmal a face it had worn for her give 
way, precisely, to their common unavowed impulse to 
find out, to emulate Charlotte's impatience ; a pre-occu- 
pation, this latter, attached detectedly to the member 
of the party who was roaming in her queerness and 
was, for all their simulated blindness, not roaming 



If Mrs. Verver meanwhile, then, had struck her as 
determined in a certain direction by the last felicity 
into which that night had flowered, our young woman 
was yet not to fail of appreciating the truth that she 
had not been put at ease, after all, with absolute per 
manence. Maggie had seen her, unmistakably, desire 
to rise to the occasion and be magnificent seen her 
decide that the right way for this would be to prove 
that the reassurance she had extorted there, under the 
high, cool lustre of the saloon, a twinkle of crystal and 
silver, had not only poured oil upon the troubled wa 
ters of their question, but had fairly drenched their 
whole intercourse with that lubricant. She had ex 
ceeded the limit of discretion in this insistence on her 
capacity to repay in proportion a service she acknowl 
edged as handsome. "Why handsome?" Maggie would 
have been free to ask ; since if she had been veracious 
the service assuredly would not have been huge. It 
would in that case have come up vividly, and for each 
of them alike, that the truth, on the Princess's lips, 
presented no difficulty. If the latter's mood, in fact, 
could have turned itself at all to private gaiety it might 
have failed to resist the diversion of seeing so clever 
a creature so beguiled. Charlotte's theory of a gen 
erous manner was manifestly to express that her step 
daughter's word, wiping out, as she might have said, 
everything, had restored them to the serenity of a re 
lation without a cloud. It had been, in short, in this 
light, ideally conclusive, so that no ghost of anything it 
referred to could ever walk again. What was the 
ecstasy of that, however, but in itself a trifle compro- 



mising? as truly, within the week, Maggie had occa 
sion to suspect her friend of beginning, and rather 
abruptly, to remember. Convinced as she was of the 
example already given her by her husband, and in re 
lation to which her profession of trust in his mistress 
had been an act of conformity exquisitely calculated, 
her imagination yet sought in the hidden play of his 
influence the explanation of any change of surface, any 
difference of expression or intention. There had been, 
through life, as we know, few quarters in which the 
Princess's fancy could let itself loose; but it shook off 
restraint when it plunged into the figured void of the 
detail of that relation. This was a realm it could peo 
ple with images again and again with fresh ones; 
they swarmed there like the strange combinations that 
lurked in the woods at twilight; they loomed into the 
definite and faded into the vague, their main present 
sign for her being, however, that they were always, 
that they were duskily, agitated. Her earlier vision of 
a state of bliss made insecure by the very intensity of 
the bliss this had dropped from her; she had ceased 
to see, as she lost herself, the pair of operatic, of high 
Wagnerian lovers (she found, deep within her, these 
comparisons) interlocked in their wood of enchant 
ment, a green glade as romantic as one's dream of an 
old German forest. The picture was veiled, on the 
contrary, with the dimness of trouble; behind which 
she felt, indistinguishable, the procession of forms that 
had lost, all so pitifully, their precious confidence. 

Therefore, though there was in these days, for her, 
with Amerigo, little enough even of the imitation, from 



day to day, of unembarrassed reference as she had 
foreseen, for that matter, from the first, that there 
would be her active conception of his accessibility to 
their companion's own private and unextinguished 
right to break ground was not much less active than 
before. So it was that her inner sense, in spite 
of everything, represented him as still pulling wires and 
controlling currents, or rather indeed as muffling the 
whole possibility, keeping it down and down, leading 
his accomplice continually on to some new turn of the 
road. As regards herself Maggie had become more 
conscious from week to week of his ingenuities of in 
tention to make up to her for their forfeiture, in so 
dire a degree, of any reality of frankness a privation 
that had left on his lips perhaps a little of the same 
thirst with which she fairly felt her own distorted, the 
torment of the lost pilgrim who listens in desert sands 
for the possible, the impossible, plash of water. It 
was just this hampered state in him, none the less, that 
she kept before her when she wished most to find 
grounds of dignity for the hard little passion which 
nothing he had done could smother. There were 
hours enough, lonely hours, in which she let dignity 
go; then there were others when, clinging with her 
winged concentration to some deep cell of her heart, 
she stored away her hived tenderness as if she had gath 
ered it all from flowers. He was walking ostensibly 
beside her, but in fact given over, without a break, to 
the grey medium in which he helplessly groped ; a per 
ception on her part which was a perpetual pang and 
which might last what it would forever if need be 
VOL. II. 19 289 


but which, if relieved at all, must be relieved by his act 
alone. She herself could do nothing more for it ; she 
had done the utmost possible. It was meantime not 
the easier to bear for this aspect under which Char 
lotte was presented as depending on him for guidance, 
taking it from him even in doses of bitterness, and yet 
lost with him in devious depths. Nothing was thus 
more sharply to be inferred than that he had promptly 
enough warned her, on hearing from her of the pre 
cious assurance received from his wife, that she 
must take care her satisfaction didn't betray some 
thing of her danger. Maggie had a day of still 
waiting, after allowing him time to learn how un 
reservedly she had lied for him of waiting as 
for the light of she scarce knew what slow-shining 
reflection of this knowledge in his personal at 
titude. What retarded evolution, she asked herself 
in these hours, mightn't poor Charlotte all un 
wittingly have precipitated ? She was thus poor Char 
lotte again for Maggie even while Maggie's own head 
was bowed, and the reason for this kept coming back 
to our young woman in the conception of what would 
secretly have passed. She saw her, face to face with 
the Prince, take from him the chill of his stiffest ad 
monition, with the possibilities of deeper difficulty that 
it represented for each. She heard her ask, irritated 
and sombre, what tone, in God's name since her 
bravery didn't suit him she was then to adopt ; and, 
by way of a fantastic flight of divination, she heard 
Amerigo reply, in a voice of which every fine note, 
familiar and admirable, came home to her, that one 



must really manage such prudences a little for one's 
self. It was positive in the Princess that, for this, she 
breathed Charlotte's cold air turned away from him 
in it with her, turned with her, in growing compassion, 
this way and that, hovered behind her while she felt 
her ask herself where then she should rest. Marvel 
lous the manner in which, under such imaginations, 
Maggie thus circled and lingered quite as if she were, 
materially, following her unseen, counting every step 
she helplessly wasted, noting every hindrance that 
brought her to a pause. 

A few days of this, accordingly, had wrought a 
change in that apprehension of the instant beatitude of 
triumph of triumph magnanimous and serene with 
which the upshot of the night-scene on the terrace had 
condemned our young woman to make terms. She 
had had, as we know, her vision of the gilt bars bent, 
of the door of the cage forced open from within and 
the creature imprisoned roaming at large- 1 - a move 
ment, on the creature's part, that was to have 
even, for the short interval, its impressive beauty, but 
of which the limit, and in yet another direction, had 
loomed straight into view during her last talk under 
the great trees with her father. It was when she saw 
his wife's face ruefully attached to the quarter to 
which, in the course of their session, he had so signifi 
cantly addressed his own it was then that Maggie 
could watch for its turning pale, it was then she seemed 
to know what she had meant by thinking of her, in 
the shadow of his most ominous reference, as 
"doomed." If, as I say, her attention now, day after 



day, so circled and hovered, it found itself arrested for 
certain passages during which she absolutely looked 
with Charlotte's grave eyes. What she unfailingly 
made out through them was the figure of a little quiet 
gentleman who mostly wore, as he moved, alone, across 
the field of vision, a straw hat, a white waistcoat and 
a blue necktie, keeping a cigar in his teeth and his 
hands in his pockets, and who, oftener than not, pre 
sented a somewhat meditative back while he slowly 
measured the perspectives of the park and broodingly 
counted (it might have appeared) his steps. There 
were hours of intensity, for a week or two, when it 
was for all the world as if she had guardedly tracked 
her stepmother, in the great house, from room to room 
and from window to window, only to see her, here and 
there and everywhere, try her uneasy outlook, ques 
tion her issue and her fate. Something, unmistak 
ably, had come up for her that had never come up 
before; it represented a new complication and had be 
gotten a new anxiety things, these, that she carried 
about with her done up in the napkin of her lover's 
accepted rebuke, while she vainly hunted for some cor 
ner where she might put them safely down. The dis 
guised solemnity, the prolonged futility of her search 
might have been grotesque to a more ironic eye; but 
Maggie's provision of irony, which we have taken for 
naturally small, had never been so scant as now, and 
there were moments while she watched with her, thus 
unseen, when the mere effect of being near her was to 
feel her own heart in her throat, was to be almost 
moved to saying to her: "Hold on tight, my poor 



dear without too much terror and it will all come 
out somehow." 

Even to that indeed, she could reflect, Charlotte 
might have replied that it was easy to say ; even to that 
no great meaning could attach so long as the little 
meditative man in the straw hat kept coming into view 
with his indescribable air of weaving his spell, weav 
ing it off there by himself. In whatever quarter of 
the horizon the appearances were scanned he was to be 
noticed as absorbed in this occupation; and Maggie 
was to become aware of two or three extraordinary 
occasions of receiving from him the hint that he meas 
ured the impression he produced. It was not really 
till after their recent long talk in the park that she 
knew how deeply, how quite exhaustively, they had 
then communicated so that they were to remain 
together, for the time, in consequence, quite in the form 
of a couple of sociable drinkers who sit back from the 
table over which they have been resting their elbows, 
over which they have emptied to the last drop their 
respective charged cups. The cups were still there on 
the table, but turned upside down; and nothing was 
left for the companions but to confirm by placid silences 
the fact that the wine had been good. They had 
parted, positively, as if, on either side, primed with it 
primed for whatever was to be; and everything 
between them, as the month waned, added its touch of 
truth to this similitude. Nothing, truly, was at pres 
ent between them save that they were looking at each 
other in infinite trust ; it fairly wanted no more words, 
and when they met, during the deep summer days, met 



even without witnesses, when they kissed at morning 
and evening, or on any of the other occasions of con 
tact that they had always so freely celebrated, a pair 
of birds of the upper air could scarce have appeared 
less to invite each other to sit down and worry afresh. 
So it was that in the house itself, where more of his 
waiting treasures than ever were provisionally ranged, 
she sometimes only looked at him from end to end of 
the great gallery, the pride of the house, for instance 
as if, in one of the halls of a museum, she had been an 
earnest young woman with a Baedeker and he a vague 
gentleman to whom even Baedekers were unknown. 
He had ever, of course, had his way of walking about 
to review his possessions and verify their condition ; 
but this was a pastime to which he now struck her as 
almost extravagantly addicted, and when she passed 
near him and he turned to give her a smile she caught 
or so she fancied the greater depth of his small, 
perpetual hum of contemplation. It was as if he were 
singing to himself, sotto voce, as he went and it was 
also, on occasion, quite ineffably, as if Charlotte, hov 
ering, watching, listening, on her side too, kept suffi 
ciently within earshot to make it out as song, and yet, 
for some reason connected with the very manner of 
it, stood off and didn't dare. 

One of the attentions she had from immediately 
after her marriage most freely paid him was that of her 
interest in his rarities, her appreciation of his taste, 
her native passion for beautiful objects and her grate 
ful desire not to miss anything he could teach her 
about them. Maggie had in due course seen her begin 



to "work" this fortunately natural source of sympathy 
for all it was worth. She took possession of the 
ground throughout its extent; she abounded, to odd 
excess, one might have remarked, in the assumption 
of its being for her, with her husband, all the ground, 
the finest, clearest air and most breathable medium 
common to them. It had been given to Maggie to 
wonder if she didn't, in these intensities of approba 
tion, too much shut him up to his province; but this 
was a complaint he had never made his daughter, and 
Charlotte must at least have had for her that, thanks 
to her admirable instinct, her range of perception 
marching with his own and never falling behind, she 
had probably not so much as once treated him to a 
rasping mistake or a revealing stupidity. Maggie, 
wonderfully, in the summer days, felt it forced upon 
her that that was one way, after all, of being a genial 
wife; and it was never so much forced upon her as 
at these odd moments of her encountering the 
sposi, as Amerigo called them, under the coved ceil 
ings of Fawns while, so together, yet at the same time 
so separate, they were making their daily round. 
Charlotte hung behind, with emphasised attention; 
she stopped when her husband stopped, but at the dis 
tance of a case or two, or of whatever other succession 
of objects; and the likeness of their connection would 
not have been wrongly figured if he had been thought 
of as holding in one of his pocketed hands the end 
of a long silken halter looped round her beautiful 
neck. He didn't twitch it, yet it was there; he didn't 
drag her, but she came; and those indications that 



I have described the Princess as finding extraor 
dinary in him were two or three mute facial 
intimations which his wife's presence didn't prevent 
his addressing his daughter nor prevent his daugh 
ter, as she passed, it was doubtless to be added, from 
flushing a little at the receipt of. They amounted 
perhaps only to a wordless, wordless smile, but the 
smile was the soft shake of the twisted silken rope, 
and Maggie's translation if it, held in her breast 
till she got well away, came out only, as if it might 
have been overheard, when some door was closed 
behind her. "Yes, you see I lead her now by 
the neck, I lead her to her doom, and she doesn't so 
much as know what it is, though she has a fear in her 
heart which, if you had the chances to apply your ear 
there that I, as a husband, have, you would hear thump 
and thump and thump. She thinks it may be, her 
doom, the awful place over there awful for her; but 
she's afraid to ask, don't you see? just as she's afraid 
of not asking; just as she's afraid of so many other 
things that she sees multiplied round her now as por 
tents and betrayals. She'll know, however when she 
does know." 

Charlotte's one opportunity, meanwhile, for the air 
of confidence she had formerly worn so well and that 
agreed so with her firm and charming type, was the 
presence of visitors, never, as the season advanced, 
wholly intermitted rather, in fact, so constant, with 
all the people who turned up for luncheon and for tea 
and to see the house, now replete, now famous, that 
Maggie grew to think again of this large element of 



"company" as of a kind of renewed water-supply for 
the tank in which, like a party of panting gold-fish, 
they kept afloat. It helped them, unmistakably, with 
each other, weakening the emphasis of so many of the 
silences of which their intimate intercourse would 
otherwise have consisted. Beautiful and wonderful 
for her, even, at times, was the effect of these interven 
tions their effect above all in bringing home to each 
the possible heroism of perfunctory things. They 
learned fairly to live in the perfunctory ; they remained 
in it as many hours of the day as might be; it took 
on finally the likeness of some spacious central chamber 
in a haunted house, a great overarched and over- 
glazed rotunda, where gaiety might reign, but the 
doors of which opened into sinister circular passages. 
Here they turned up for each other, as they said, with 
the blank faces that denied any uneasiness felt in the 
approach; here they closed numerous doors carefully 
behind them all save the door that connected the 
place, as by a straight tented corridor, with the outer 
world, and, encouraging thus the irruption of society, 
imitated the aperture through which the bedizened 
performers of the circus are poured into the ring. The 
great part Mrs. Verver had socially played came luck 
ily, Maggie could make out, to her assistance ; she had 
"personal friends" Charlotte's personal friends had 
ever been, in London, at the two houses, one of the 
most convenient pleasantries who actually tempered, 
at this crisis, her aspect of isolation ; and it wouldn't 
have been hard to guess that her best moments were 
those in which she suffered no fear of becoming a bore 



to restrain her appeal to their curiosity. Their curios 
ity might be vague, but their clever hostess was dis 
tinct, and she marched them about, sparing them noth 
ing, as if she counted, each day, on a harvest of half- 
crowns. Maggie met her again, in the gallery, at the 
oddest hours, with the party she was entertaining; 
heard her draw out the lesson, insist upon the interest, 
snub, even, the particular presumption and smile for 
the general bewilderment inevitable features, these 
latter, of almost any occasion in a manner that made 
our young woman, herself incurably dazzled, marvel 
afresh at the mystery by which a creature who could 
be in some connexions so earnestly right could be in 
others so perversely wrong. When her father, 
vaguely circulating, was attended by his wife, it was 
always Charlotte who seemed to bring up the rear; 
but he hung in the background when she did cicerone, 
and it was then perhaps that, moving mildly and mod 
estly to and fro on the skirts of the exhibition, his ap 
pearance of weaving his spell was, for the initiated 
conscience, least to be resisted. Brilliant women 
turned to him in vague emotion, but his response 
scarce committed him more than if he had been the 
person employed to see that, after the invading wave 
was spent, the cabinets were all locked and the sym 
metries all restored. 

There was a morning when, during the hour before 
luncheon and shortly after the arrival of a neighbourly 
contingent neighbourly from ten miles off whom 
Mrs. Verver had taken in charge, Maggie paused on 
the threshold of the gallery through which she had 



been about to pass, faltered there for the very impres 
sion of his face as it met her from an opposite door. 
Charlotte, half-way down the vista, held together, as 
if by something almost austere in the grace of her 
authority, the semi-scared (now that they were there!) 
knot of her visitors, who, since they had announced 
themselves by telegram as yearning to inquire and ad 
mire, saw themselves restricted to this consistency. 
Her voice, high and clear and a little hard, reached her 
husband and her step-daughter while she thus placed 
beyond doubt her cheerful submission to duty. Her 
words, addressed to the largest publicity, rang for some 
minutes through the place, every one as quiet to listen 
as if it had been a church ablaze with tapers and she 
were taking her part in some hymn of praise. Fanny 
Assingham looked rapt in devotion Fanny Assing- 
ham who forsook this other friend as little as she for 
sook either her host or the Princess or the Prince or 
the Principino ; she supported her, in slow revolutions, 
in murmurous attestations of presence, at all such 
times, and Maggie, advancing after a first hesitation, 
was not to fail of noting her solemn, inscrutable atti 
tude, her eyes attentively lifted, so that she might es 
cape being provoked to betray an impression. She 
betrayed one, however, as Maggie approached, drop 
ping her gaze to the latter's level long enough to seem 
to adventure, marvellously, on a mute appeal. "You 
understand, don't you, that if she didn't do this there 
would be no knowing what she might do?" This 
light Mrs. Assingham richly launched while her 
younger friend, unresistingly moved, became uncer- 



tain again, and then, not too much to show it or, 
rather, positively to conceal it, and to conceal some 
thing more as well turned short round to one of the 
windows and awkwardly, pointlessly waited. "The 
largest of the three pieces has the rare peculiarity that 
the garlands, looped round it, which, as you see, are the 
finest possible vieux Saxe, are not of the same origin 
or period, or even, wonderful as they are, of a taste 
quite so perfect. They have been put on at a later 
time, by a process of which there are very few ex 
amples, and none so important as this, which is really 
quite unique so that, though the whole thing is a lit 
tle baroque, its value as a specimen is, I believe, almost 

So the high voice quavered, aiming truly at effects 
far over the heads of gaping neighbours; so the 
speaker, piling it up, sticking at nothing, as less inter 
ested judges might have said, seemed to justify the 
faith with which she was honoured. Maggie mean 
while, at the window, knew the strangest thing to be 
happening : she had turned suddenly to crying, or was 
at least on the point of it the lighted square before 
her all blurred and dim. The high voice went on ; its 
quaver was doubtless for conscious ears only, but there 
were verily thirty seconds during which it sounded, for 
our young woman, like the shriek of a soul in pain. 
Kept up a minute longer it would break and collapse 
so that Maggie felt herself, the next thing, turn with 
a start to her father. "Can't she be stopped? Hasn't 
she done it enough?" some such question as that she 
let herself ask him to suppose in her. Then it was 



that, across half the gallery for he had not moved 
from where she had first seen him he struck her as 
confessing, with strange tears in his own eyes, to 
sharp identity of emotion. "Poor thing, poor thing" 
it reached straight "isn't she, for one's credit, 
on the swagger ?" After which, as, held thus together 
they had still another strained minute, the shame, the 
pity, the better knowledge, the smothered protest, the 
divined anguish even, so overcame him that, blushing 
to his eyes, he turned short away. The affair but of 
a few 'muffled moments, this snatched communion yet 
lifted Maggie as on air so much, for deep guesses on 
her own side too, it gave her to think of. There was, 
honestly, an awful mixture in things, and it was not 
closed to her aftersense of such passages we have 
already indeed, in other cases, seen it open that the 
deepest depth of all, in a perceived penalty, was that 
you couldn't be sure some of your compunctions and 
contortions wouldn't show for ridiculous. Amerigo, 
that morning, for instance, had been as absent as he at 
this juncture appeared to desire he should mainly be 
noted as being ; he had gone to London for the day and 
the night a necessity that now frequently rose for 
him and that he had more than once suffered to oper 
ate during the presence of guests, successions of pretty 
women, the theory of his fond interest in whom had 
been publicly cultivated. It had never occurred to his 
wife to pronounce him ingenuous, but there came at 
last a high dim August dawn when she couldn't sleep 
and when, creeping restlessly about and breathing at 
her window the coolness of wooded acres, she found 



the faint flush of the east march with the perception of 
that other almost equal prodigy. It rosily coloured 
her vision that even such as he was, yes her husband 
could on occasion sin by excess of candour. He 
wouldn't otherwise have given as his reason for going 
up to Portland Place in the August days that he was 
arranging books there. He had bought a great many 
of late, and he had had others, a large number, sent 
from Rome wonders of old print in which her father 
had been interested. But when her imagination 
tracked him to the dusty town, to the house where 
drawn blinds and pale shrouds, where a caretaker and 
a kitchenmaid were alone in possession, it wasn't to see 
him, in his shirtsleeves, unpacking battered boxes. 

She saw him, in truth, less easily beguiled saw him 
wander, in the closed dusky rooms, from place to place, 
or else, for long periods, recline on deep sofas and 
stare before him through the smoke of ceaseless cigar 
ettes. She made him out as liking better than any 
thing in the world just now to be alone with his 
thoughts. Being herself connected with his thoughts, 
she continued to believe, more than she had ever been, 
it was thereby a good deal as if he were alone with 
her. She made him out as resting so from that con 
stant strain of the perfunctory to which he was ex 
posed at Fawns ; and she was accessible to the impres 
sion of the almost beggared aspect of this alternative. 
It was like his doing penance in sordid ways being 
sent to prison or being kept without money ; it wouldn't 
have taken much to make her think of him as really 
kept without food. He might have broken away, 



might easily have started to travel; he had a right 
thought wonderful Maggie now to so many more 
freedoms than he took ! His secret was of course that 
at Fawns he all the while winced, was all the while 
in presences in respect to which he had thrown him 
self back, with a hard pressure, on whatever mysteries 
of pride, whatever inward springs familiar to the man 
of the world, he could keep from snapping. Maggie, 
for some reason, had that morning, while she watched 
the sunrise, taken an extraordinary measure of the 
ground on which he would have had to snatch at pre 
texts for absence. It all came to her there he got 
off to escape from a sound. The sound was in her 
own ears still that of Charlotte's high coerced 
quaver before the cabinets in the hushed gallery; the 
voice by which she herself had been pierced the day 
before as by that of a creature in anguish and by which, 
while she sought refuge at the blurred window, the 
tears had been forced into her eyes. Her comprehen 
sion soared so high that the wonder for her became 
really his not feeling the need of wider intervals and 
thicker walls. Before that admiration she also medi 
tated; consider as she might now, she kept reading 
not less into what he omitted than into what he per 
formed a beauty of intention that touched her fairly 
the more by being obscure. It was like hanging over 
a garden in the dark; nothing was to be made of the 
confusion of growing things, but one felt they were 
folded flowers, and their vague sweetness made the 
whole air their medium. He had to turn away, but he 
wasn't at least a coward; he would wait on the spot 



for the issue of what he had done on the spot. She 
sank to her knees with her arm on the ledge of her 
window-seat, where she blinded her eyes from the full 
glare of seeing that his idea could only be to wait, 
whatever might come, at her side. It was to her buried 
face that she thus, for a long time, felt him draw near 
est ; though after a while, when the strange wail of the 
gallery began to repeat its inevitable echo, she was 
conscious of how that brought out his pale hard 



THE resemblance had not been present to her on first 
coming out into the hot, still brightness of the Sun 
day afternoon only the second Sunday, of all the 
summer, when the party of six, the party of seven 
including the Principino, had practically been with 
out accessions or invasions; but within sight of 
Charlotte, seated far away, very much where she 
had expected to find her, the Princess fell to won 
dering if her friend wouldn't be affected quite as she 
herself had been, that night on the terrace, under 
Mrs. Verver's perceptive pursuit. The relation, 
to-day, had turned itself round; Charlotte was seeing 
her come, through patches of lingering noon, quite 
as she had watched Charlotte menace her through 
the starless dark; and there was a moment, that of 
her waiting a little as they thus met across the 
distance, when the interval was bridged by a recog 
nition not less soundless, and to all appearance not 
less charged with strange meanings, than that of 
the other occasion. The point, however, was that 
they had changed places; Maggie had from her win 
dow, seen her stepmother leave the house at so 
unlikely an hour, three o'clock of a canicular August, 
for a ramble in garden or grove and had there- 
VOL. n. 20 305 


upon felt her impulse determined with the same 
sharpness that had made the spring of her compan 
ion's three weeks before. It was the hottest day of 
the season, and the shaded siesta, for people all at 
their ease, would certainly rather have been pre 
scribed; but our young woman had perhaps not yet 
felt it so fully brought home that such refinements 
of repose, among them, constituted the empty chair 
at the feast. This was the more distinct as the feast, 
literally, in the great bedimmed dining-room, the 
cool, ceremonious semblance of luncheon, had just 
been taking place without Mrs. Verver. She had 
been represented but by the plea of a bad headache, 
not reported to the rest of the company by her hus 
band, but offered directly to Mr. Verver himself, on 
their having assembled, by her maid, deputed for the 
effect and solemnly producing it. 

Maggie had sat down, with the others, to viands 
artfully iced, to the slow circulation of precious 
tinkling jugs, to marked reserves of reference in 
many directions poor Fanny Assingham herself 
scarce thrusting her nose out of the padded hollow 
into which she had withdrawn. A consensus of lan 
guor, which might almost have been taken for a 
community of dread, ruled the scene relieved only 
by the fitful experiments of Father Mitchell, good 
holy, nungry man, a trusted and overworked London 
friend and adviser, who had taken, for a week or two, 
the light neighbouring service, local rites flourishing 
under Maggie's munificence, and was enjoying, as a 
convenience, all the bounties of the house. He con- 



versed undiscouraged, Father Mitchell conversed 
mainly with the indefinite, wandering smile of the 
entertainers, and the Princess's power to feel him on 
the whole a blessing for these occasions was not im 
paired by what was awkward in her consciousness of 
having, from the first of her trouble, really found her 
way without his guidance. She asked herself at 
times if he suspected how more than subtly, how per 
versely, she had dispensed with him, and she balanced 
between visions of all he must privately have guessed 
and certitudes that he had guessed nothing what 
ever. He might nevertheless have been so urbanely 
filling up gaps, at present, for the very reason that 
his instinct, sharper than the expression of his face, 
had sufficiently served him made him aware of the 
thin ice, figuratively speaking, and of prolongations of 
tension, round about him, mostly foreign to the circles 
in which luxury was akin to virtue. Some day 
in some happier season, she would confess to him that 
she hadn't confessed, though taking so much on her 
conscience; but just now she was carrying in her 
weak, stiffened hand a glass filled to the brim, as 
to which she had recorded a vow that no drop should 
overflow. She feared the very breath of a better 
wisdom, the jostle of the higher light, of heavenly help 
itself; and, in addition, however that might be, she 
drew breath this afternoon, as never yet, in an ele 
ment heavy to oppression. 

Something grave had happened, somehow and 
somewhere, and she had, God knew, her choice of 
suppositions: her heart stood still when she won- 


dered above all if the cord mightn't at last have 
snapped between her husband and her father. She 
shut her eyes for dismay at the possibility of such a 
passage there moved before them the procession of 
ugly forms it might have taken. "Find out for your 
self !" she had thrown to Amerigo, for her last word, 
on the question of who else "knew," that night of the 
breaking of the Bowl; and she flattered herself that 
she hadn't since then helped him, in her clear con 
sistency, by an inch. It was what she had given him, 
all these weeks, to be busy with, and she had again 
and again lain awake for the obsession of this sense 
of his uncertainty ruthlessly and endlessly playing 
with his dignity. She had handed him over to 
an ignorance that couldn't even try to become in 
different and that yet wouldn't project itself, either, 
into the cleared air of conviction. In proportion as 
he was generous it had bitten into his spirit, 
and more than once she had said to herself that to 
break the spell she had cast upon him and that 
the polished old ivory of her father's inattackable sur 
face made so absolute, he would suddenly commit 
some mistake or some violence, smash some window- 
pane for air, fail even of one of his blest inveteracies 
of taste. In that way, fatally, he would have put him 
self in the wrong blighting by a single false step 
the perfection of his outward show. 

These shadows rose and fell for her while Father 
Mitchell prattled; with other shadows as well, those 
that hung over Charlotte herself, those that marked 
her as a prey to equal suspicions to the idea, in par- 



ticular, of a change, such a change as she didn't dare 
to face, in the relations of the two men. Or there 
were yet other possibilities, as it seemed to Maggie; 
there were always too many, and all of them things 
of evil when one's nerves had at last done for one all 
that nerves could do; had left one in a darkness of 
prowling dangers that was like the predicament of 
the night-watcher in a beast-haunted land who has 
no more means for a fire. She might, with such 
nerves, have supposed almost anything of any one; 
anything, almost, of poor Bob Assingham, con 
demned to eternal observances and solemnly appre 
ciating her father's wine; anything, verily, yes, of the 
good priest, as he finally sat back with fat folded 
hands and twiddled his thumbs on his stomach. The 
good priest looked hard at the decanters, at the dif 
ferent dishes of dessert he eyed them, half-obliquely, 
as if they might have met him to-day, for conversa 
tion, better than any one present. But the Princess 
had her fancy at last about that too; she was in the 
midst of a passage, before she knew it, between 
Father Mitchell and Charlotte some approach he 
would have attempted with her, that very morning 
perhaps, to the circumstance of an apparent detach 
ment, recently noted in her, from any practice of 
devotion. He would have drawn from this, say, his 
artless inference taken it for a sign of some 
smothered inward trouble and pointed, naturally, the 
moral that the way out of such straits was not 
through neglect of the grand remedy. He had pos 
sibly prescribed contrition he had at any rate quick- 



ened in her the beat of that false repose to which our 
young woman's own act had devoted her at her all so 
deluded instance. The falsity of it had laid traps 
compared to which the imputation of treachery even 
accepted might have seemed a path of roses. The 
acceptance, strangely, would have left her nothing 
to do she could have remained, had she liked, all 
insolently passive; whereas the failure to proceed 
against her, as it might have been called, left her 
everything, and all the more that it was wrapped so 
in confidence. She had to confirm, day after day, the 
Tightness of her cause and the justice and felicity of 
her exemption so that wouldn't there have been, 
fairly, in any explicit concern of Father Mitchell's, 
depths of practical derision of her success? 

The question was provisionally answered, at all 
events, by the time the party at luncheon had begun 
to disperse with Maggie's version of Mrs. Verver 
sharp to the point of representing her pretext for ab 
sence as a positive flight from derision. She met 
the good priest's eyes before they separated, and 
priests were really, at the worst, so to speak, such 
wonderful people that she believed him for an instant 
on the verge of saying to her, in abysmal softness: 
"Go to Mrs. Verver, my child you go: you'll find 
that you can help her." This didn't come, however; 
nothing came but the renewed twiddle of thumbs 
over the satisfied stomach and the full flush, the com 
ical candour, of reference to the hand employed at 
Fawns for mayonnaise of salmon. Nothing came 
but the receding backs of each of the others -her 



father's slightly bent shoulders, in especial, which 
seemed to weave his spell, by the force of habit, not 
less patiently than if his wife had been present. Her 
husband indeed was present to feel anything there 
might be to feel which was perhaps exactly why 
this personage was moved promptly to emulate so 
definite an example of "sloping." He had his occu 
pations books to arrange perhaps even at Fawns; 
the idea of the siesta, moreover, in all the conditions, 
had no need to be loudly invoked. Maggie, was, 
in the event, left alone for a minute with Mrs. As- 
singham, who, after waiting for safety, appeared to 
have at heart to make a demonstration. The stage 
of "talking over" had long passed for them; when 
they communicated now it was on quite ultimate 
facts; but Fanny desired to testify to the existence, 
on her part, of an attention that nothing escaped. 
She was like the kind lady who, happening to linger 
at the circus while the rest of the spectators pour 
grossly through the exits, falls in with the over 
worked little trapezist girl the acrobatic support 
presumably of embarrassed and exacting parents 
and gives her, as an obscure and meritorious artist, 
assurance of benevolent interest. What was clear 
est, always, in our young woman's imaginings, was 
the sense of being herself left, for any occasion, in the 
breach. She was essentially there to bear the burden, 
in the last resort, of surrounding omissions and 
evasions, and it was eminently to that office she had 
been to-day abandoned with this one alleviation, 
as appeared, of Mrs. Assingham's keeping up with 



her. Mrs. Assingham suggested that she too was 
still on the ramparts though her gallantry proved 
indeed after a moment to consist not a little of her 
curiosity. She had looked about and seen their com 
panions beyond earshot. 

"Don't you really want us to go ?" 

Maggie found a faint smile. "Do you really 
want to ?" 

It made her friend colour. "Well then no. But 
we ivould, you know, at a look from you. We'd pack 
up and be off as a sacrifice." 

"Ah, make no sacrifice," said Maggie. "See me 

"That's it that's all I want. I should be too 

base ! Besides," Fanny went on, "you're too 



"Splendid. Also, you know, you are all but 
'through.' You've done it," said Mrs. Assingham. 

But Maggie only half took it from her. "What 
does it strike you that I've done?" 

"What you wanted. They're going." 

Maggie continued to look at her. "Is that what 
I wanted?" 

"Oh, it wasn't for you to say. That was his 

"My father's?" Maggie asked after an hesitation. 

"Your father's. He has chosen and now she 
knows. She sees it all before her and she can't 
speak, or resist, or move a little finger. That's what's 
the matter with her," said Fanny Assingham. 



It made a picture, somehow, for the Princess, as 
they stood there the picture that the words of oth 
ers, whatever they might be, always made for her, 
even when her vision was already charged, better 
than any words of her own. She saw, round about 
her, through the chinks of the shutters, the hard 
glare of nature saw Charlotte, somewhere in it, 
virtually at bay, and yet denied the last grace of any 
protecting truth. She saw her off somewhere all 
unaided, pale in her silence and taking in her fate. 
"Has she told you?" she then asked. 

Her companion smiled superior. "I don't need to 
be told either! I see something, thank God, every 
day." And then as Maggie might appear to be won 
dering what, for instance: "I see the long miles of 
ocean and the dreadful great country, State after 
State which have never seemed to me so big or 
so terrible. I see them at last, day by day and step 
by step, at the far end and I see them never come 
back. But never simply. I see the extraordinary 
'interesting' place which I've never been to, you 
know, and you have and the exact degree in which 
she will be expected to be interested." 

"She will be," Maggie presently replied. 



For a little, after this, their eyes met on it; at the 
end of which Fanny said: "She'll be yes what 
she'll have to be. And it will be won't it ? for ever 
and ever." She spoke as abounding in her friend's 
sense, but it made Maggie still only look at her. 



These were large words and large visions all the 
more that now, really, they spread and spread. In 
the midst of them, however, Mrs. Assingham had 
soon enough continued. "When I talk of 'knowing,' 
indeed, I don't mean it as you would have a right 
to do. You know because you see and I don't see 
him. I don't make him out," she almost crudely con 

Maggie again hesitated. "You mean you don't 
make out Amerigo?" 

But Fanny shook her head, and it was quite as if, 
as an appeal to one's intelligence, the making out of 
Amerigo had, in spite of everything, long been su 
perseded. Then Maggie measured the reach of her 
allusion, and how what she next said gave her mean 
ing a richness. No other name was to be spoken, 
and Mrs. Assingham had taken that, without delay, 
from her eyes with a discretion, still, that fell short 
but by an inch. "You know how he feels." 

Maggie at this then slowly matched her headshake. 
"I know nothing." 

"You know how you feel." 

But again she denied it. " I know nothing. If I 
did !" 

"Well, if you did?" Fanny asked as she faltered. 

She had had enough, however. "I should die," she 
said as she turned away. 

She went to her room, through the quiet house; 
she roamed there a moment, picking up, pointlessly, 
a different fan, and then took her way to the shaded 
apartments in which, at this hour, the Principino 



would be enjoying his nap. She passed through the 
first empty room, the day nursery, and paused at an 
open door. The inner room, large, dim and cool, 
was equally calm; her boy's ample, antique, historical, 
royal crib, consecrated, reputedly, by the guarded 
rest of heirs-apparent, and a gift, early in his career, 
from his grandfather, ruled the scene from the centre, 
in the stillness of which she could almost hear the 
child's soft breathing. The prime protector of his 
dreams was installed beside him; her father sat there 
with as little motion with head thrown back and 
supported, with eyes apparently closed, with the fine 
foot that was so apt to betray nervousness at peace 
upon the other knee, with the unfathomable heart 
folded in the constant flawless freshness of the white 
waistcoat that could always receive in its armholes 
the firm prehensile thumbs. Mrs. Noble had majesti 
cally melted, and the whole place signed her tem 
porary abdication; yet the actual situation was 
regular, and Maggie lingered but to look. She 
looked over her fan, the top of which was pressed 
against her face, long enough to wonder if her father 
really slept or if, aware of her, he only kept con 
sciously quiet. Did his eyes truly fix her between 
lids partly open, and was she to take this his fore- 
bearance from any question only as a sign again 
that everything was left to her? She at all events, 
for a minute, watched his immobility then, as if 
once more renewing her total submission, returned, 
without a sound, to her own quarters. 

A strange impulse was sharp in her, but it was 


for her part, the desire to shift the weight. She could 
as little have slept as she could have slept that morn 
ing, days before, when she had watched the first dawn 
from her window. Turned to the east, this side of 
her room was now in shade, with the two wings of 
the casement folded back and the charm she always 
found in her seemingly perched position as if her 
outlook, from above the high terraces, was that of 
some castle-tower mounted on a rock. When she 
stood there she hung over, over the gardens and the 
woods all of which drowsed below her, at this hour, 
in the immensity of light. The miles of shade looked 
hot, the banks of flowers looked dim; the peacocks 
on the balustrades let their tails hang limp and the 
smaller birds lurked among the leaves. Nothing 
therefore would have appeared to stir in the brilliant 
void if Maggie, at the moment she was about to turn 
away, had not caught sight of a moving spot, a clear 
green sunshade in the act of descending a flight of 
steps. It passed down from the terrace, receding, at 
a distance, from sight, and carried, naturally, so as 
to conceal the head and back of its bearer; but Mag 
gie had quickly recognised the white dress and the 
particular motion of this adventurer had taken in 
that Charlotte, of all people, had chosen the glare 
of noon for an exploration of the gardens, and that 
she could be betaking herself only to some unvisited 
quarter deep in them, or beyond them, that she had al 
ready marked as a superior refuge. The Princess kept 
her for a few minutes in sight, watched her long 
enough to feel her, by the mere betrayal of her pace 



and direction, driven in a kind of flight, and then un 
derstood, for herself, why the act of sitting still had 
become impossible to either of them. There came to 
her, confusedly, some echo of an ancient fable some 
vision of lo goaded by the gadfly or of Ariadne roam 
ing the lone sea-strand. It brought with it all the 
sense of her own intention and desire; she too might 
have been, for the hour, some far-off harassed heroine 
only with a part to play for which she knew, exact 
ly, no inspiring precedent. She knew but that, all the 
while all the while of her sitting there among the 
others without her she had wanted to go straight 
to this detached member of the party and make 
somehow, for her support, the last demonstration. 
A pretext was all that was needful, and Maggie after 
another instant had found one. 

She had caught a glimpse, before Mrs. Verver dis 
appeared, of her carrying a book made out, half lost 
in the folds of her white dress, the dark cover of a vol 
ume that was to explain her purpose in case of her 
being met with surprise, and the mate of which, pre 
cisely, now lay on Maggie's table. The book was an 
old novel that the Princess had a couple of days 
before mentioned having brought down from Port 
land Place in the charming original form of its three 
volumes. Charlotte had hailed, with a specious glit 
ter of interest, the opportunity to read it, and our 
young woman had, thereupon, on the morrow, 
directed her maid to carry it to Mrs. Verver's apart 
ments. She was afterwards to observe that this mes 
senger, unintelligent or inadvertent, had removed 


but one of the volumes, which happened not to be 
the first. Still possessed, accordingly, of the first 
while Charlotte, going out, fantastically, at such an 
hour, to cultivate romance in an arbour, was help 
lessly armed with the second, Maggie prepared on 
the spot to sally forth with succour. The right vol 
ume, with a parasol, was all she required in 
addition, that is, to the bravery of her general idea. 
She passed again through the house, unchallenged, 
and emerged upon the terrace, which she followed, 
hugging the shade, with that consciousness of turning 
the tables on her friend which we have already noted. 
But so far as she went, after descending into the open 
and beginning to explore the grounds, Mrs. Verver 
had gone still further with the increase of the 
oddity, moreover, of her having exchanged the pro 
tection of her room for these exposed and shining 
spaces. It was not, fortunately, however, at last, 
that by persisting in pursuit one didn't arrive at 
regions of admirable shade: this was the asylum, pre 
sumably, that the poor wandering woman had had in 
view several wide alleys, in particular, of great 
length, densely overarched with the climbing rose 
and the honeysuckle and converging, in separate 
green vistas, at a sort of umbrageous temple, an an 
cient rotunda, pillared and statued, niched and roofed, 
yet with its uncorrected antiquity, like that of every 
thing else at Fawns, conscious hitherto of no violence 
from the present and no menace from the future. 
Charlotte had paused there, in her frenzy, or what 
ever it was to be called; the place was a conceivable 


retreat, and she was staring before her, from the seat 
to which she appeared to have sunk, all unwittingly, 
as Maggie stopped at the beginning of one of the per 

It was a repetition more than ever then of the 
evening on the terrace; the distance was too great 
to assure her she had been immediately seen, but the 
Princess waited, with her intention, as Charlotte on 
the other occasion had waited allowing, oh allow 
ing, for the difference of the intention! Maggie was 
full of the sense of that so full that it made her im 
patient; whereupon she moved forward a little, 
placing herself in range of the eyes that had been 
looking off elsewhere, but that she had suddenly 
called to recognition. Charlotte had evidently not 
dreamed of being followed, and instinctively, with her 
pale stare, she stiffened herself for protest. Maggie 
could make that out as well as, further, however, 
that her second impression of her friend's approach 
had an instant effect on her attitude. The Princess 
came nearer, gravely and in silence, but fairly paused 
again, to give her time for whatever she would. 
Whatever she would, whatever she could, was what 
Maggie wanted wanting above all to make it as easy 
for her as the case permitted. That was not what 
Charlotte had wanted the other night, but this never 
mattered the great thing was to allow her, was 
fairly to produce in her, the sense of highly choosing. 
At first, clearly, she had been frightened; she had 
not been pursued, it had quickly struck her, without 
some design on the part of her pursuer, and what 


might she not be thinking of in addition but the way 
she had, when herself the pursuer, made her step 
daughter take in her spirit and her purpose? It had 
sunk into Maggie at the time, that hard insistence, 
and Mrs. Verver had felt it and seen it and heard 
it sink; which wonderful remembrance of pressure 
successfully applied had naturally, till now, remained 
with her. But her stare was like a projected fear that 
the buried treasure, so dishonestly come by, for which 
her companion's still countenance, at the hour and 
afterwards, had consented to serve as the deep soil, 
might have worked up again to the surface, to be 
thrown back upon her hands. Yes, it was positive 
that during one of these minutes the Princess had the 
vision of her particular alarm. "It's her lie, it's her lie 
that has mortally disagreed with her; she can keep 
down no longer her rebellion at it, and she has come 
to retract it, to disown it and denounce it to give me 
full in my face the truth instead." This, for a con 
centrated instant, Maggie felt her helplessly gasp 
but only to let it bring home the indignity, the pity 
of her state. She herself could but tentatively hover, 
place in view the book she carried, look as little dan 
gerous, look as abjectly mild, as possible; remind 
herself really of people she had read about in stories 
of the wild west^ people who threw up their hands, 
on certain occasions, as a sign they weren't carrying 
revolvers. She could almost have smiled at last, 
troubled as she yet knew herself, to show how richly 
she was harmless; she held up her volume, which was 
so weak a weapon, and while she continued, for con- 



sideration, to keep her distance, she explained with 
as quenched a quaver as possible. "I saw you come 
out saw you from my window, and couldn't bear to 
think you should find yourself here without the be 
ginning of your book. This is the beginning; you've 
got the wrong volume, and I've brought you out the 

She remained after she had spoken; it was like 
holding a parley with a possible adversary, and her 
intense, her exalted little smile asked for formal leave. 
"May I come nearer now?" she seemed to say as 
to which, however, the next minute, she saw Char 
lotte's reply lose itself in a strange process, a thing 
of several sharp stages, which she could stand there 
and trace. The dread, after a minute, had dropped 
from her face; though, discernibly enough, she still 
couldn't believe in her having, in so strange a fashion, 
been deliberately made up to. If she had been made 
up to, at least, it was with an idea the idea that 
had struck her at first as necessarily dangerous. 
That it wasn't, insistently wasn't, this shone from 
Maggie with a force finally not to be resisted; and 
on that perception, on the immense relief so consti 
tuted, everything had by the end of three minutes 
extraordinarily changed. Maggie had come out to 
her, really, because she knew her doomed, doomed to 
a separation that was like a knife in her heart; and 
in the very sight of her uncontrollable, her blinded 
physical quest of a peace not to be grasped, something 
of Mrs. Assingham's picture of her as thrown, for a 
grim future, beyond the great sea and the great con- 

VOL. ii. 21 321 


tinent had at first found fulfilment. She had got 
away, in this fashion burning behind her, almost, 
the ships of disguise to let her horror of what was 
before her play up without witnesses; and even after 
Maggie's approach had presented an innocent front 
it was still not to be mistaken that she bristled with 
the signs of her extremity. It was not to be said 
for them, either, that they were draped at this houi 
in any of her usual graces; unveiled and all but un 
ashamed, they were tragic to the Princess in spite 
of the dissimulation that, with the return of compar 
ative confidence, was so promptly to operate. How 
tragic, in essence, the very change made vivid, the 
instant stiffening of the spring of pride this for pos 
sible defence if not for possible aggression. Pride 
indeed, the next moment, had become the mantle 
caught up for protection and perversity; she flung 
it round her as a denial of any loss of her freedom. 
To be doomed was, in her situation, to have extrava 
gantly incurred a doom, so that to confess to 
wretchedness was, by the same stroke, to confess to 
falsity. She wouldn't confess, she didn't a thou 
sand times no; she only cast about her, and quite 
frankly and fiercely, for something else that would 
give colour to her having burst her bonds. Her 
eyes expanded, her bosom heaved as she invoked it, 
and the effect upon Maggie was verily to wish she 
could only help her to it. She presently got up 
which seemed to mean "Oh, stay if you like!" 
and when she had moved about awhile at random, 



looking away, looking at anything, at everything 
but her visitor; when she had spoken of the 
temperature and declared that she revelled in it; when 
she had uttered her thanks for the book, which, 
a little incoherently, with her second volume, she 
perhaps found less clever than she expected; when 
she had let Maggie approach sufficiently closer 
to lay, untouched, the tribute in question on a bench 
and take up obligingly its superfluous mate: when 
she had done these things she sat down in another 
place, more or less visibly in possession of her part. 
Our young woman was to have passed, in all her 
adventure, no stranger moments; for she not only 
now saw her companion fairly agree to take her 
then for the poor little person she was finding it 
so easy to appear, but fell, in a secret, respon 
sive ecstasy, to wondering if there were not some 
supreme abjection with which she might be inspired. 
Vague, but increasingly brighter, this possibility 
glimmered on her. It at last hung there ade 
quately plain to Charlotte that she had presented 
herself once more to (as they said) grovel; and that, 
truly, made the stage large. It had absolutely, within 
the time, taken on the dazzling merit of being large 
for each of them alike. 

"I'm glad to see you alone there's something I've 
been wanting to say to you. I'm tired," said Mrs. 
Verver, "I'm tired !" 

"Tired ?" It had dropped the next thing; it 

couldn't all come at once; but Maggie had already 



guessed what it was, and the flush of recognition was 
in her face. 

"Tired of this life the one we've been leading. 
You like it, I know, but I've dreamed another 
dream." She held up her head now; her lighted eyes 
more triumphantly rested; she was finding, she was 
following her way. Maggie, by the same influence, 
sat in sight of it ; there was something she was saving, 
some quantity of which she herself was judge; 
and it was for a long moment, even with the sacrifice 
the Princess had come to make, a good deal like 
watching her, from the solid shore, plunge into un 
certain, into possibly treacherous depths. "I see 
something else," she went on; "I've an idea that 
greatly appeals to me I've had it for a long time. 
It has come over me that we're wrong. Our real life 
isn't here." 

Maggie held her breath. " 'Ours' ?" 

"My husband's and mine. I'm not speaking for 

"Oh!" said Maggie, only praying not to be, not 
even to appear, stupid. 

"I'm speaking for ourselves. I'm speaking," Char 
lotte brought out, "for him." 

"I see. For my father." 

"For your father. For whom else?" They looked 
at each other hard now, but Maggie's face took 
refuge in the intensity of her interest. She was not 
at all events so stupid as to treat her companion's 
question as requiring an answer; a discretion that her 
controlled stillness had after an instant justified. "I 



must risk your thinking me selfish for of course 
you know what it involves. Let me admit it I am 
selfish. I place my husband first." 

"Well," said Maggie smiling and smiling, "since 
that's where I place mine !" 

''You mean you'll have no quarrel with me? So 
much the better then; for," Charlotte went on with 
a higher and higher flight, "my plan is completely 

Maggie waited her glimmer had deepened; her 
chance somehow was at hand. The only danger was 
her spoiling it; she felt herself skirting an abyss. 
"What then, may I ask is your plan?" 

It hung fire but ten seconds; it came out sharp. 
"To take him home to his real position. And not 
to wait." 

"Do you mean a this season?" 

"I mean immediately. And I may as well tell 
you now I mean for my own time. I want," Char 
lotte said, "to have him at last a little to myself; I 
want, strange as it may seem to you" and she gave 
it all its weight "to keep the man I've married. 
And to do so, I see, I must act." 

Maggie, with the effort still to follow the right 
line, felt herself colour to the eyes. "Immediately?" 
she thoughtfully echoed. 

"As soon as we can get off. The removal of every 
thing is, after all, but a detail. That can always be 
done; with money, as he spends it, everything can. 
What I ask for," Charlotte declared, "is the definite 
break. And I wish it now." With which her head, 



like her voice rose higher. "Oh," she added, "I know 
my difficulty!" 

Far down below the level of attention, in she 
could scarce have said what sacred depths, Maggie's 
inspiration had come, and it had trembled the next 
moment into sound. "Do you mean I'm your dif 

"You and he together since it's always with you 
that I've had to see him. But it's a difficulty that 
I'm facing, if you wish to know; that I've already 
faced; that I propose to myself to surmount. The 
struggle with it none too pleasant hasn't been for 
me, as you may imagine, in itself charming; I've felt 
in it at times, if I must tell you all, too great and too 
strange, an ugliness. Yet I believe it may succeed." 

She had risen, with this, Mrs. Verver, and had 
moved, for the emphasis of it, a few steps away; while 
Maggie, motionless at first, but sat and looked at 
her. "You want to take my father from me?" 

The sharp, successful, almost primitive wail in it 
made Charlotte turn, and this movement attested 
for the Princess the felicity of her deceit. Something 
in her throbbed as it had throbbed the night she 
stood in the drawing-room and denied that she had 
suffered. She was ready to lie again if her companion 
would but give her the opening. Then she should 
know she had done all. Charlotte looked at her 
hard, as if to compare her face with her note of re 
sentment; and Maggie, feeling this, met it with the 
signs of an impression that might pass for the im 
pression of defeat. "I want really to possess him," 



said Mrs. Verver. "I happen also to feel that he's 
worth it." 

Maggie rose as if to receive her. "Oh worth it!" 
she wonderfully threw off. 

The tone, she instantly saw, again had its effect: 
Charlotte flamed aloft might truly have been be 
lieving in her passionate parade. "You've thought 
you've known what he's worth ?" 

"Indeed then, my dear, I believe I have as I be 
lieve I still do." 

She had given it, Maggie, straight back, and again 
it had not missed. Charlotte, for another moment, 
only looked at her; then broke into the words Mag 
gie had known they would come of which she had 
pressed the spring. "How I see that you loathed our 

"Do you ask me?" Maggie after an instant de 

Charlotte had looked about her, picked up the 
parasol she had laid on a bench, possessed herself 
mechanically of one of the volumes of the relegated 
novel and then, more consciously, flung it down 
again: she was in presence, visibly, of her last word. 
She opened her sunshade with a click; she twirled it 
on her shoulder in her pride. " 'Ask' you? Do I 
need? How I see," she broke out, "that you've 
worked against me!' 

"Oh, oh, oh!" the Princess exclaimed. 

Her companion, leaving her, had reached one of 
the archways, but on this turned round with a flare. 
"You haven't worked against me?" 



Maggie took it and for a moment kept it; held it, 
with closed eyes, as if it had been some captured 
fluttering bird pressed by both hands to her breast. 
Then she opened her eyes to speak. "What does it 
matter if I've failed?" 

"You recognise then that you've failed?" asked 
Charlotte from the threshold. 

Maggie waited; she looked, as her companion had 
done a moment before, at the two books on the seat; 
she put them together and laid them down; then she 
made up her mind. "I've failed!" she sounded out 
before Charlotte, having given her time, walked 
away. She watched her, splendid and erect, float 
down the long vista; then she sank upon a seat. Yes, 
she had done all. 




"I'LL do anything you like," she said to her husband 
on one of the last days of the month, "if our being here, 
this way at this time, seems to you too absurd, or too 
uncomfortable, or too impossible. We'll either take 
leave of them now, without waiting or we'll come 
back in time, three days before they start. I'll go 
abroad with you, if you but say the word; to Switzer 
land, the Tyrol, the Italian Alps, to whichever of your 
old high places you would like most to see again 
those beautiful ones that used to do you good after 
Rome and that you so often told me about." 

Where they were, in the conditions that prompted 
this offer, and where it might indeed appear ridiculous 
that, with the stale London September close at hand, 
they should content themselves with remaining, was 
where the desert of Portland Place looked blank as it 
had never looked, and where a drowsy cabman, scan 
ning the horizon for a fare, could sink to oblivion of 
the risks of immobility. But Amerigo was of the odd 
opinion, day after day, that their situation couldn't be 
bettered ; and he even went at no moment through the 
form of replying that, should their ordeal strike her as 



exceeding their patience, any step they might take 
would be for her own relief. This was, no doubt, 
partly because he stood out so wonderfully, to the end, 
against admitting, by a weak word at least, that any 
element of their existence was, or ever had been, an 
ordeal ; no trap of circumstance, no lapse of "form," no 
accident of irritation, had landed him in that inconse 
quence. His wife might verily have suggested that he 
was consequent consequent with the admirable ap 
pearance he had from the first so undertaken, and so 
continued, to present rather too rigidly at her ex 
pense; only, as it happened, she was not the little per 
son to do anything of the sort, and the strange tacit 
compact actually in operation between them might 
have been founded on an intelligent comparison, a defi 
nite collation positively, of the kinds of patience proper 
to each. She was seeing him through he had en 
gaged to come out at the right end if she would see 
him : this understanding, tacitly renewed from week to 
week, had fairly received, with the procession of the 
weeks, the consecration of time ; but it scarce needed to 
be insisted on that she was seeing him on his terms, 
not all on hers, or that, in other words, she must allow 
him his unexplained and uncharted, his one practicably 
workable way. If that way, by one of the intimate 
felicities the liability to which was so far from having 
even yet completely fallen from him, happened hand 
somely to show him as more bored than boring (with 
advantages of his own freely to surrender, but none to 
be persuadedly indebted to others for,) what did such 
a false face of the matter represent but the fact itself 



that she was pledged? If she had questioned or chal 
lenged or interfered if she had reserved herself that 
right she wouldn't have been pledged ; whereas there 
were still, and evidently would be yet a while, long, 
tense stretches during which their case might have been 
hanging, for every eye, on her possible, her impossible 
defection. She must keep it up to the last, mustn't 
absent herself for three minutes from her post: only 
on those lines, assuredly, would she show herself as 
with him and not against him. 

It was extraordinary how scant a series of signs she 
had invited him to make of being, of truly having been 
at any time, "with" his wife: that reflection she was 
not exempt from as they now, in their suspense, 
supremely waited a reflection under the brush of 
which she recognised her having had, in respect to him 
as well, to "do all," to go the whole way over, to move, 
indefatigably, while he stood as fixed in his place as 
some statue of one of his forefathers. The meaning 
of it would seem to be, she reasoned in sequestered 
hours, that he had a place, and that this was an attribute 
somehow indefeasible, unquenchable, which laid upon 
others from the moment they definitely wanted any 
thing of him the necessity of taking more of the steps 
that he could, of circling round him, of remembering 
for his benefit the famous relation of the mountain to 
Mahomet. It was strange, if one had gone into it, but 
such a place as Amerigo's was like something made for 
him beforehand by innumerable facts, facts largely of 
the sort known as historical, made by ancestors, ex 
amples, traditions, habits; while Maggie's own had 



come to show simply as that improvised "post" a post 
of the kind spoken of as advanced with which she 
was to have found herself connected in the fashion of 
a settler or a trader in a new country ; in the likeness 
even of some Indian squaw with a papoose on her back 
and barbarous bead-work to sell. Maggie's own, in 
short, would have been sought in vain in the most rudi 
mentary map of the social relations as such. The only 
geography marking it would be doubtless that of the 
fundamental passions. The "end" that the Prince was 
at all events holding out for was represented to expec 
tation by his father-in-law's announced departure for 
America with Mrs. Verver; just as that prospective 
event had originally figured as advising, for discretion, 
the flight of the younger couple, to say nothing of the 
withdrawal of whatever other importunate company, 
before the great upheaval of Fawns. This residence 
was to be peopled for a month by porters, packers and 
hammerers, at whose operations it had become pecu 
liarly public public that is for Portland Place that 
Charlotte was to preside in force; operations the quite 
awful appointed scale and style of which had at no 
moment loomed so large to Maggie's mind as one day 
when the dear Assinghams swam back into her ken 
besprinkled with sawdust and looking as pale as if they 
had seen Samson pull down the temple. They had 
seen at least what she was not seeing, rich dim things 
under the impression of which they had retired; she 
having eyes at present but for the clock by which she 
timed her husband, or for the glass the image per 
haps would be truer in which he was reflected to her 



as he timed the pair in the country. The accession of 
their friends from Cadogan Place contributed to all 
their intermissions, at any rate, a certain effect of res 
onance; an effect especially marked by the upshot of 
a prompt exchange of inquiries between Mrs. Assing- 
ham and the Princess. It was noted, on the occasion 
of that anxious lady's last approach to her young friend 
at Fawns, that her sympathy had ventured, after much 
accepted privation, again to become inquisitive, and it 
had perhaps never so yielded to that need as on this 
question of the present odd "line" of the distinguished 

"You mean to say really that you're going to stick 
here?" And then before Maggie could answer: 
"What on earth will you do with your even- 

Maggie waited a moment Maggie could still ten 
tatively smile. "When people learn we're here and 
of course the papers will be full of it! they'll flock 
back in their hundreds, from wherever they are, to 
catch us. You see you and the Colonel have your 
selves done it. As for our evenings, they won't, I 
dare say, be particularly different from anything else 
that's ours. They won't be different from our morn 
ings or our afternoons except perhaps that you two 
dears will sometimes help us to get through them. 
I've offered to go anywhere," she added; "to take a 
house if he will. But this just this and nothing else 
is Amerigo's idea. He gave it yesterday," she went 
on, "a name that, as he said, described and fitted it. 
So you see" and the Princess indulged again in her 



smile that didn't play, but that only, as might have 
been said, worked "so you see there's a method in 
our madness." 

It drew Mrs. Assingham's wonder. "And what 
then is the name?" 

1 'The reduction to its simplest expression of what 
we are doing' that's what he called it. Therefore as 
we're doing nothing, we're doing it in the most aggra 
vated way which is the way he desires." With 
which Maggie further said : "Of course I under 

"So do I!" her visitor after a moment breathed. 
"You've had to vacate the house that was inevitable. 
But at least here he doesn't funk." 

Our young woman accepted the expression. "He 
doesn't funk." 

It only, however, half contented Fanny, who 
thoughtfully raised her eyebrows. "He's prodigious; 
but what is there as you've 'fixed' it to dodge? 
Unless," she pursued, "it's her getting near him; it's 
if you'll pardon my vulgarity her getting at him. 
That," she suggested, "may count with him." 

But it found the Princess prepared. "She can get 
near him here. She can get 'at' him. She can come 

"Can she ?" Fanny Assingham questioned. 

"Can't she?" Maggie returned. 

Their eyes, for a minute, intimately met on it ; after 
which the elder woman said : "I mean for seeing him 

"So do I," said the Princess. 


At which Fanny, for her reasons, couldn't help smil 
ing. "Oh, if it's for that he's staying !" 

"He's staying I've made it out to take anything 
that comes or calls upon him. To take," Maggie went 
on, "even that." Then she put it as she had at last 
put it to herself. "He's staying for high decency." 

"Decency?" Mrs. Assingham gravely echoed. 

"Decency. If she should try !" 

"Well ?" Mrs. Assingham urged. 

"Well, I hope !" 

"Hope he'll see her?" 

Maggie hesitated, however; she made no direct re 
ply. "It's useless hoping," she presently said. "She 
won't. But he ought to." Her friend's expression of 
a moment before, which had been apologised for as 
vulgar, prolonged its sharpness to her ear that of an 
electric bell under continued pressure. Stated so 
simply, what was it but dreadful, truly, that the feasi 
bility of Charlotte's "getting at" the man who for so 
long had loved her should now be in question? 
Strangest of all things, doubtless, this care of Mag 
gie's as to what might make for it or make against it ; 
stranger still her fairly lapsing at moments into a 
vague calculation of the conceivability, on her own 
part, with her husband, of some direct sounding of the 
subject. Would it be too monstrous, her suddenly 
breaking out to him as in alarm at the lapse of the 
weeks : "Wouldn't it really seem that you're bound in 
honour to do something for her, privately, before they 
go ?" Maggie was capable of weighing the risk of this 
adventure for her own spirit, capable of sinking to 



intense little absences, even while conversing, as now, 
with the person who had most of her confidence, 
during which she followed up the possibilities. It was 
true that Mrs. Assingham could at such times some 
what restore the balance by not wholly failing to guess 
her thought. Her thought, however, just at present, 
had more than one face had a series that it succes 
sively presented. These were indeed the possibilities 
involved in the adventure of her concerning herself for 
the quantity of compensation that Mrs. Verver might 
still look to. There was always the possibility that she 
was, after all, sufficiently to get at him there was in 
fact that of her having again and again done so. 
Against this stood nothing but Fanny Assingham's ap 
parent belief in her privation more mercilessly im 
posed, or more hopelessly felt, in the actual relation of 
the parties; over and beyond everything that, from 
more than three months back, of course, had fostered 
in the Princess a like conviction. These assumptions 
might certainly be baseless inasmuch as there were 
hours and hours of Amerigo's time that there was no 
habit, no pretence of his accounting for ; inasmuch too 
as Charlotte, inevitably, had had more than once, to 
the undisguised knowledge of the pair in Portland 
Place, been obliged to come up to Eaton Square, 
whence so many of her personal possessions were in 
course of removal. She didn't come to Portland Place 
didn't even come to ask for luncheon on two sepa 
rate occasions when it reached the consciousness of the 
household there that she was spending the day in Lon 
don. Maggie hated, she scorned, to compare hours 



and appearances, to weigh the idea of whether there 
hadn't been moments, during these days, when an as 
signation, in easy conditions, a snatched interview, in 
an air the season had so cleared of prying eyes, 
mightn't perfectly work. But the very reason of this 
was partly that, haunted with the vision of the poor 
woman carrying off with such bravery as she found to 
her hand the secret of her not being appeased, she was 
conscious of scant room for any alternative image. 
The alternative image would have been that the secret 
covered up was the secret of appeasement somehow 
obtained, somehow extorted and cherished; and the dif 
ference between the two kinds of hiding was too great 
to permit of a mistake. Charlotte was hiding neither 
pride nor joy she was hiding humiliation; and here it 
was that the Princess's passion, so powerless for vin-r 
dictive flights, most inveterately bruised its tender 
ness against the hard glass of her question. 

Behind the glass lurked the whole history of the re 
lation she had so fairly flattened her nose against it to 
penetrate the glass Mrs. Verver might, at this stage, 
have been frantically tapping, from within, by way of 
supreme, irrepressible entreaty. Maggie had said to 
herself complacently, after that last passage with her 
stepmother in the garden of Fawns, that there was 
nothing left for her to do and that she could thereupon 
fold her hands. But why wasn't it still left to push 
further and, from the point of view of personal pride, 
grovel lower? why wasn't it still left to offer herself 
as the bearer of a message reporting to him their 
friend's anguish and convincing him of her need? 

VOL. II. 2a 337 


She could thus have translated Mrs. Verver's tap 
against .the glass, as I have called it, into fifty forms ; 
could perhaps have translated it most into the form of 
a reminder that would pierce deep. "You don't know 
what it is to have been loved and broken with. You 
haven't been broken with, because in your relation what 
can there have been, worth speaking of, to break? 
Ours was everything a relation could be, filled to the 
brim with the wine of consciousness ; and if it was to 
have no meaning, no better meaning than that such a 
creature as you could breathe upon it, at your hour, 
for blight, why was I myself dealt with all for decep 
tion? why condemned after a couple of short years to 
find the golden flame oh, the golden flame! a mere 
handful of black ashes?" Our young woman so 
yielded, at moments, to what was insidious in these 
foredoomed ingenuities of her pity, that for minutes 
together, sometimes, the weight of a new duty seemed 
to rest upon her the duty of speaking before separa 
tion should constitute its chasm, of pleading for some 
benefit that might be carried away into exile like the 
last saved object of price of the emigre, the jewel 
wrapped in a piece of old silk and negotiable some day 
in the market of misery. 

This imagined service to the woman who could no 
longer help herself was one of the traps set for Mag 
gie's spirit at every turn of the road ; the click of which, 
catching and holding the divine faculty fast, was fol 
lowed inevitably by a flutter, by a struggle of wings 
and even, as we may say, by a scattering of fine feath 
ers. For they promptly enough felt, these yearnings 



of thought and excursions of sympathy, the concus 
sion that couldn't bring them down the arrest pro 
duced by the so remarkably distinct figure that, at 
Fawns, for the previous weeks, was constantly cross 
ing, in its regular revolution, the further end of any 
watched perspective. Whoever knew, or whoever 
didn't, whether or to what extent Charlotte, with 
natural business in Eaton Square, had shuffled other 
opportunities under that cloak, it was all matter for the 
kind of quiet ponderation the little man who so kept 
his wandering way had made his own. It was part of 
the very inveteracy of his straw hat and his white 
waistcoat, of the trick of his hands in his pockets, of 
the detachment of the attention he fixed on his slow 
steps from behind his secure pince-nez. The thing 
that never failed now as an item in the picture was 
that gleam of the silken noose, his wife's immaterial 
tether, so marked to Maggie's sense during her last 
month in the country. Mrs. Verver's straight neck 
had certainly not slipped it ; nor had the other end of 
the long cord oh, quite conveniently long! disen 
gaged its smaller loop from the hooked thumb that, 
with his fingers closed upon it, her husband kept out of 
sight. To have recognised, for all its tenuity, the play 
of this gathered lasso might inevitably be to wonder 
with what magic it was twisted, to what tension sub 
jected, but could never be to doubt either of its ade 
quacy to its office or of its perfect durability. These 
reminded states for the Princess were in fact states of 
renewed gaping. So many things her father knew 
that she even yet didn't ! 



All this, at present, with Mrs. Assingham, passed 
through her in quick vibrations. She had expressed, 
while the revolution of her thought was incomplete, 
the idea of what Amerigo "ought," on his side, in the 
premises, to be capable of, and then had felt her com 
panion's answering stare. But she insisted on what 
she had meant. "He ought to wish to see her and 
I mean in some protected and independent way, as he 
used to in case of her being herself able to manage 
it. That," said Maggie with the courage of her con 
viction, "he ought to be ready, he ought to be happy, 
he ought to feel himself sworn little as it is for the 
end of such a history! to take from her. It's as if 
he wished to get off without taking anything." 

Mrs. Assingham deferentially mused. "But for 
what purpose is it your idea that they should again so 
intimately meet?" 

"For any purpose they like. That's their affair." 

Fanny Assingham sharply laughed, then irrepres- 
sibly fell back to her constant position. "You're 
splendid perfectly splendid." To which, as the 
Princess, shaking an impatient head, wouldn't have 
it again at all, she subjoined: "Or if you're not it's 
because you're so sure. I mean sure of him." 

"Ah, I'm exactly not sure of him. If I were sure 

of him I shouldn't doubt !" But Maggie cast 

about her. 

"Doubt what?" Fanny pressed as she waited. 

"Well, that he must feel how much less than she he 
pays and how that ought to keep her present to him." 

This, in its turn, after an instant, Mrs. Assingham 

could meet with a smile. "Trust him, my dear, to 
keep her present ! But trust him also to keep himself 
absent. Leave him his own way." 

"I'll leave him everything," said Maggie. "Only 
you know it's my nature I think." 

"It's your nature to think too much," Fanny Assing- 
ham a trifle coarsely risked. 

This but quickened, however, in the Princess the act 
she reprobated. "That may be. But if I hadn't 
thought !" 

"You wouldn't, you mean, have been where you 

"Yes, because they, on their side, thought of every 
thing but that. They thought of everything but that 
I might think." 

"Or even," her friend too superficially concurred, 
"that your father might !" 

As to this, at all events, Maggie discriminated. 
"No, that wouldn't have prevented them ; for they knew 
that his first care would be not to make me do so. As 
it is," Maggie added, "that has had to become his 

Fanny Assingham took it in deeper for what it im 
mediately made her give out louder. "He's splendid 
then." She sounded it almost aggressively; it was 
what she was reduced to she had positively to place it. 

"Ah, that as much as you please!" 

Maggie said this and left it, but the tone of it had 
the next moment determined in her friend a fresh re 
action. "You think, both of you, so abysmally and yet 
so quietly. But it's what will have saved you." 



"Oh," Maggie returned, "it's what from the mo 
ment they discovered we could think at all will have 
saved them. For they're the ones who are saved," she 
went on. "We're the ones who are lost." 

"Lost ?" 

"Lost to each other father and I." And then as 
her friend appeared to demur, "Oh yes," Maggie quite 
lucidly declared, "lost to each other much more, really, 
than Amerigo and Charlotte are; since for them it's 
just, it's right, it's deserved, while for us it's only sad 
and strange and not caused by our fault. But I don't 
know," she went on, "why I talk about myself, for it's 
on father it really comes. I let him go," said Maggie. 

"You let him, but you don't make him." 

"I take it from him," she answered. 

"But what else can you do?" 

"I take it from him," the Princess repeated. "I do 
what I knew from the first I should do. I get off by 
giving him up." 

"But if he gives you?" Mrs. Assingham presumed 
to object. "Doesn't it moreover then," she asked, 
"complete the very purpose with which he married 
that of making you and leaving you more free?" 

Maggie looked at her long. "Yes I help him to 
do that." 

Mrs. Assingham hesitated, but at last her bravery 
flared. "Why not call it then frankly his complete 
success ?" 

"Well," said Maggie, "that's all that's left me to do." 

"It's a success," her friend ingeniously developed, 
"with which you've simply not interfered." And as 



if to show that she spoke without levity Mrs. Assing- 
ham went further. "He has made it a success for 
them /" 

"Ah, there you are!" Maggie responsively mused. 
"Yes," she said the next moment, "that's why Amerigo 

"Let alone that it's why Charlotte goes." And 
Mrs. Assingham, emboldened, smiled "So he 
knows ?" 

But Maggie hung back. "Amerigo ?" After 

which, however, she blushed to her companion's rec 

"Your father. He knows what you know? I 
mean," Fanny faltered "well, how much does he 
know?" Maggie's silence and Maggie's eyes had in 
fact arrested the push of the question which, for a 
decent consistency, she couldn't yet quite abandon. 
"What I should rather say is does he know how 
much?" She found it still awkward. "How much, 
I mean, they did. How far" she touched it up 
"they went." 

Maggie had waited, but only with a question. "Do 
you think he does?" 

"Know at least something? Oh, about him I can't 
think. He's beyond me," said Fanny Assingham. 

"Then do you yourself know ?" 

"How much ?" 

"How much." 

"How far ?" 

"How far." 

Fanny had appeared to wish to make sure, but there 


was something she remembered remembered in time 
and even with a smile. "I've told you before that I 
know absolutely nothing." 

"Well that's what / know," said the Princess. 

Her friend again hesitated. "Then nobody 

knows ? I mean," Mrs. Assingham explained, 

"how much your father does." 

Oh, Maggie showed that she understood. "No 

"Not a little Charlotte?" 

"A little?" the Princess echoed. "To know any 
thing would be, for her, to know enough." 

"And she doesn't know anything?" 

"If she did," Maggie answered, "Amerigo would." 

"And that's just it that he doesn't?" 

"That's just it," said the Princess profoundly. 

On which Mrs. Assingham reflected. "Then how 
is Charlotte so held ?" 

"Just by that." 

"By her ignorance?" 

"By her ignorance." 

Fanny wondered. "A torment ?" 

"A torment," said Maggie with tears in her eyes. 

Her companion a moment watched them. "But the 
Prince then ?" 

"How is he held?" Maggie asked. 

"How is /^held?" 

"Oh, I can't tell you that !" And the Princess again 
broke off. 



A TELEGRAM, in Charlotte's name, arrived early 
"We shall come and ask you for tea at five, if con 
venient to you. Am wiring for the Assinghams to 
lunch." This document, into which meanings were 
to be read, Maggie promptly placed before her hus 
band, adding the remark that her father and his wife, 
who would have come up the previous night or that 
morning, had evidently gone to an hotel. 

The Prince was in his "own" room, where he often 
sat now alone; half-a-dozen open newspapers, the 
"Figaro" notably, as well as the "Times," were scat 
tered about him ; but, with a cigar in his teeth and a 
visible cloud on his brow, he appeared actually to be 
engaged in walking to and fro. Never yet, on thus 
approaching him for she had done it of late, under 
one necessity or another, several times had a par 
ticular impression so greeted her; supremely strong, 
for some reason, as he turned quickly round on her en 
trance. The reason was partly the look in his face 
a suffusion like the flush of fever, which brought back 
to her Fanny Assingham's charge, recently uttered 
under that roof, of her "thinking" too impenetrably. 
The word had remained with her and made her think 
still more; so that, at first, as she stood there, she felt 



responsible for provoking on his part an irritation of 
suspense at which she had not aimed. She had been 
going about him these three months, she perfectly 
knew, with a maintained idea of which she had never 
spoken to him ; but what had at last happened was that 
his way of looking at her, on occasion, seemed a per 
ception of the presence not of one idea, but of fifty, 
variously prepared for uses with which he somehow 
must reckon. She knew herself suddenly, almost 
strangely, glad to be coming to him, at this hour, with 
nothing more abstract than a telegram; but even after 
she had stepped into his prison under her pretext, 
while her eyes took in his face and then embraced the 
four walls that enclosed his restlessness, she recognised 
the virtual identity of his condition with that aspect of 
Charlotte's situation for which, early in the summer 
and in all the amplitude of a great residence, she had 
found, with so little seeking, the similitude of the 
locked cage. He struck her as caged, the man who 
couldn't now without an instant effect on her sensibil 
ity give an instinctive push to the door she had not 
completely closed behind her. He had been turning 
twenty ways, for impatiences all his own, and when 
she was once shut in with him it was yet again as if 
she had come to him in his more than monastic cell 
to offer him light or food. There was a difference 
none the less, between his captivity and Charlotte's 
the difference, as it might be, of his lurking there by 
his own act and his own choice ; the admission of which 
had indeed virtually been in his starting, on her en 
trance, as if even this were in its degree an interference. 



That was what betrayed for her, practically, his fear 
of her fifty ideas, and what had begun, after a min 
ute, to make her wish to repudiate or explain. It was 
more wonderful than she could have told; it was for 
all the world as if she was succeeding with him beyond 
her intention. She had, for these instants, the sense 
that he exaggerated, that the imputation of purpose 
had fairly risen too high in him. She had begun, a 
year ago, by asking herself how she could make him 
think more of her; but what was it, after all, he was 
thinking now ? He kept his eyes on her telegram ; he 
read it more than once, easy as it was, in spite of its 
conveyed deprecation, to understand; during which 
she found herself almost awestruck with yearning, 
almost on the point of marking somehow what she had 
marked in the garden at Fawns with Charlotte that 
she had truly come unarmed. She didn't bristle with 
intentions she scarce knew, as he at this juncture 
affected her, what had become of the only intention 
she had come with. She had nothing but her old idea, 
the old one he knew; she hadn't the ghost of another. 
Presently in fact, when four or five minutes had 
elapsed, it was as if she positively hadn't so much even 
as that one. He gave her back her paper, asking with 
it if there were anything in particular she wished him 
to do. 

She stood there with her eyes on him, doubling the 
telegram together as if it had been a precious thing 
and yet all the while holding her breath. Of a sudden, 
somehow, and quite as by the action of their merely 
having between them these few written words, an 



extraordinary fact came up. He was with her as if 
he were hers, hers in a degree and on a scale, with an 
intensity and an intimacy, that were a new and a 
strange quantity, that were like the irruption of a tide 
loosening them where they had stuck and making them 
feel they floated. What was it that, with the rush of 
this, just kept her from putting out her hands to him, 
from catching at him as, in the other time, with the 
superficial impetus he and Charlotte had privately con 
spired to impart, she had so often, her breath failing 
her, known the impulse to catch at her father? She 
did, however, just yet, nothing inconsequent though 
she couldn't immediately have said what saved her; 
and by the time she had neatly folded her telegram 
she was doing something merely needful. "I wanted 
you simply to know so that you mayn't by accident 
miss them. For it's the last," said Maggie. 

"The last?" 

"I take it as their good-bye." And she smiled as 
she could always smile. "They come in state to take 
formal leave. They do everything that's proper. To 
morrow," she said, "they go to Southampton." 

"If they do everything that's proper," the Prince 
presently asked, "why don't they at least come to dine?" 

She hesitated, yet she lightly enough provided her 
answer. "That we must certainly ask them. It will 
be easy for you. But of course they're immensely 
taken !" 

He wondered. "So immensely taken that they can't 
that your father can't give you his last evening in 



This, for Maggie, was more difficult to meet ; yet she 
was still not without her stop-gap. "That may be 
what they'll propose that we shall go somewhere 
together, the four of us, for a celebration except that, 
to round it thoroughly off, we ought also to have Fanny 
and the Colonel. They don't want them at tea, she 
quite sufficiently expresses; they polish them off, poor 
dears, they get rid of them, beforehand. They want 
only us together; and if they cut us down to tea," she 
continued, "as they cut Fanny and the Colonel down 
to luncheon, perhaps it's for the fancy, after all, of their 
keeping their last night in London for each other." 

She said these things as they came to her ; she was 
unable to keep them back, even though, as she heard 
herself, she might have been throwing everything to 
the winds. But wasn't that the right way for shar 
ing his last day of captivity with the man one adored ? 
It was every moment more and more for her as if she 
were waiting with him in his prison waiting with 
some gleam of remembrance of how noble captives in 
the French Revolution, the darkness of the Terror, 
used to make a feast, or a high discourse, of their last 
poor resources. If she had broken with everything 
now, every observance of all the past months, she must 
simply then take it so take it that what she had 
worked for was too near, at last, to let her keep her 
head. She might have been losing her head verily in 
her husband's eyes since he didn't know, all the while, 
that the sudden freedom of her words was but the 
diverted intensity of her disposition personally to seize 
him. He didn't know, either, that this was her man- 



ner now she was with him of beguiling audaciously 
the supremacy of suspense. For the people of the 
French Revolution, assuredly, there wasn't suspense; 
the scaffold, for those she was thinking of, was cer 
tain whereas what Charlotte's telegram announced 
was, short of some incalculable error, clear liberation. 
Just the point, however, was in its being clearer to her 
self than to him ; her clearnesses, clearances those she 
had so all but abjectly laboured for threatened to 
crowd upon her in the form of one of the clusters of 
angelic heads, the peopled shafts of light beating down 
through iron bars, that regale, on occasion, precisely, 
the fevered vision of those who are in chains. She was 
going to know, she felt, later on was going to know 
with compunction, doubtless, on the very morrow, how 
thumpingly her heart had beaten at this foretaste of 
their being left together: she should judge at leisure 
the surrender she was making to the consciousness of 
complications about to be bodily lifted. She should 
judge at leisure even that avidity for an issue which 
was making so little of any complication but the un- 
extinguished presence of the others; and indeed that 
she was already simplifying so much more than her 
husband came out for her next in the face with which 
he listened. He might certainly well be puzzled, in re 
spect to his father-in-law and Mrs. Verver, by hef 
glance at their possible preference for a concentrated 
evening. "But it isn't is it?" he asked "as if they 
were leaving each other ?" 

"Oh no ; it isn't as if they were leaving each other. 
They're only bringing to a close without knowing 



when it may open again a time that has been, natur 
ally, awfully interesting to them." Yes, she could 
talk so of their "time" she was somehow sustained; 
she was sustained even to affirm more intensely her 
present possession of her ground. "They have their 
reasons many things to think of; how can one tell? 
But there's always, also, the chance of his proposing to 
me that we shall have our last hours together ; I mean 
that he and I shall. He may wish to take me off to 
dine with him somewhere alone and to do it in 
memory of old days. I mean," the Princess went on, 
"the real old days; before my grand husband was in 
vented and, much more, before his grand wife was : 
the wonderful times of his first great interest in what 
he has since done, his first great plans and opportuni 
ties, discoveries and bargains. The way we've sat 
together late, ever so late, in foreign restaurants, which 
he used to like ; the way that, in every city in Europe, 
we've stayed on and on, with our elbows on the table 
and most of the lights put out, to talk over things 
he had that day seen or heard of or made his offer for, 
the things he had secured or refused or lost! There 
were places he took me to you wouldn't believe ! for 
often he could only have left me with servants. If he 
should carry me off with him to-night, for old sake's 
sake, to the Earl's Court Exhibition, it will be a little 
just a very, very little like our young adventures." 
After which while Amerigo watched her, and in fact 
quite because of it, she had an inspiration, to which she 
presently yielded. If he was wondering what she 
would say next she had found exactly the thing. "In 



that case he will leave you Charlotte to take care of in 
our absence. You'll have to carry her off somewhere 
for your last evening; unless you may prefer to 
spend it with her here. I shall then see that you dine, 
that you have everything, quite beautifully. You'll be 
able to do as you like." 

She couldn't have been sure beforehand, and had 
really not been ; but the most immediate result of this 
speech was his letting her see that he took it for no 
cheap extravagance either of irony or of oblivion. 
Nothing in the world, of a truth, had ever been so sweet 
to her as his look of trying to be serious enough to 
make no mistake about it. She troubled him which 
hadn't been at all her purpose; she mystified him 
which she couldn't help and, comparatively, didn't 
mind ; then it came over her that he had, after all, a 
simplicity, very considerable, on which she had never 
dared to presume. It was a discovery not like the 
other discovery she had once made, but giving out a 
freshness; and she recognised again in the light of it 
the number of the ideas of which he thought her 
capable. They were all, apparently, queer for him, but 
she had at least, with the lapse of the months, created 
the perception that there might be something in them; 
whereby he stared there, beautiful and sombre, at what 
she was at present providing him with. There was 
something of his own in his mind, to which, she was 
sure, he referred everything for a measure and a mean 
ing ; he had never let go of it, from the evening, weeks 
before, when, in her room, after his encounter with the 
Bloomsbury cup, she had planted it there by flinging it 



at him, on the question of her father's view of him, her 
determined "Find out for yourself!" She had been 
aware, during the months, that he had been trying to 
find out, and had been seeking, above all, to avoid the 
appearance of any evasions of such a form of knowl 
edge as might reach him, with violence or with a pene 
tration more insidious, from any other source. Noth 
ing, however, had reached him ; nothing he could at all 
conveniently reckon with had disengaged itself for him 
even from the announcement, sufficiently sudden, of 
the final secession of their companions. Charlotte was 
in pain, Charlotte was in torment, but he himself had 
given her reason enough for that; and, in respect to 
the rest of the whole matter of her obligation to follow 
her husband, that personage and she, Maggie, had so 
shuffled away every link between consequence and 
cause, that the intention remained, like some famous 
poetic line in a dead language, subject to varieties of 
interpretation. What renewed the obscurity was her 
strange image of their common offer to him, her 
father's and her own, of an opportunity to separate 
from Mrs. Verver with the due amount of form and 
all the more that he was, in so pathetic a way, unable 
to treat himself to a quarrel with it on the score of 
taste. Taste, in him, as a touchstone, was now all at 
sea ; for who could say but that one of her fifty ideas, 
or perhaps forty-nine of them, wouldn't be, exactly, 
that taste by itself, the taste he had always conformed 
to, had no importance whatever? If meanwhile, at all 
events, he felt her as serious, this made the greater rea 
son for her profiting by it as she perhaps might never 
VOL. II. 23 . 353 


be able to profit again. She was invoking that reflec 
tion at the very moment he brought out, in reply to her 
last words, a remark which, though perfectly relevant 
and perfectly just, affected her at first as a high oddity. 
"They're doing the wisest thing, you know. For if 

they were ever to go !" And he looked down at 

her over his cigar. 

If they were ever to go, in short, it was high time, 
with her father's age, Charlotte's need of initiation, 
and the general magnitude of the job of their getting 
settled and seasoned, their learning to "live into" their 
queer future it was high time that they should take 
up their courage. This was eminent sense, but it 
didn't arrest the Princess, who, the next moment, had 
found a form for her challenge. "But shan't you then 
so much as miss her a little? She's wonderful and 
beautiful, and I feel somehow as if she were dying. 
Not really, not physically," Maggie went on "she's 
so far, naturally, splendid as she is, from having done 
with life. But dying for us for you and me; and 
making us feel it by the very fact of there being so 
much of her left." 

The Prince smoked hard a minute. "As you 
say, she's splendid, but there is there always will 
be much of her left. Only, as you also say, for 

"And yet I think," the Princess returned, "that it 
isn't as if we had wholly done with her. How can we 
not always think of her? It's as if her unhappiness 
had been necessary to us as if we had needed her, at 
her own cost, to build us up and start us." 



He took it in with consideration, but he met it with 
a lucid inquiry. "Why do you speak of the unhappi- 
ness of your father's wife?" 

They exchanged a long look the time that it took 
her to find her reply. "Because not to !" 

"Well, not to ?" 

"Would make me have to speak of him. And 
I can't," said Maggie, "speak of him." 

"You 'can't' ?" 

"I can't." She said it as for definite notice, not to 
be repeated. "There are too many things," she never 
theless added. "He's too great." 

The Prince looked at his cigar-tip, and then as he put 
back the weed: "Too great for whom?" Upon 
which as she hesitated, "Not, my dear, too great for 
you," he declared. "For me oh, as much as you 

"Too great for me is what I mean. I know why I 
think it," Maggie said. "That's enough." 

He looked at her yet again as if she but fanned his 
wonder; he was on the very point, she judged, of ask 
ing her why she thought it. But her own eyes majn- 
tained their warning, and at the end of a minute he 
had uttered other words. "What's of importance is 
that you're his daughter. That at least we've got. 
And I suppose that, if I may say nothing else, I may 
say at least that I value it." 

"Oh yes, you may say that you value it. I myself 
make the most of it." 

This again he took in, letting it presently put forth 
for him a striking connection. "She ought to have 



known you. That's what's present to me. She ought 
to have understood you better." 

"Better than you did?" 

"Yes," he gravely maintained, "better than I did. 
And she didn't really know you at all. She doesn't 
know you now." 

"Ah, yes she does !" said Maggie. 

But he shook his head he knew what he meant. 
"She not only doesn't understand you more than I, she 
understands you ever so much less. Though even 

"Well, even you ?" Maggie pressed as he paused. 

"Even I, even I even yet !" Again he paused 

and the silence held them. 

But Maggie at last broke it. "If Charlotte doesn't 
understand me, it is that I've prevented her. I've 
chosen to deceive her and to lie to her." 

The Prince kept his eyes on her. "I know what 
you've chosen to do. But I've chosen to do the 

"Yes," said Maggie after an instant "my choice 
was made when I had guessed yours. But you mean," 
she asked, "that she understands you?" 

"It presents small difficulty!" 

"Are you so sure?" Maggie went on. 

"Sure enough. But it doesn't matter." He waited 
an instant; then looking up through the fumes of his 
smoke, "She's stupid," he abruptly opined. 

"O-oh !" Maggie protested in a long wail. 

It had made him in fact quickly change colour. 
"What I mean is that she's not, as you pronounce her, 



unhappy." And he recovered, with this, all his logic. 
"Why is she unhappy if she doesn't know ?" 

"Doesn't know ?" She tried to make his logic 


"Doesn't know that you know." 

It came from him in such a way that she was con 
scious, instantly, of three or four things to answer. 
But what she said first was : "Do you think that's all 
it need take?" And before he could reply, "She 
knows, she knows !" Maggie proclaimed. 

"Well then, what?" 

But she threw back her head, she turned impatiently 
away from him. "Oh, I needn't tell you ! She knows 
enough. Besides," she went on, "she doesn't believe 

It made the Prince stare a little. "Ah, she asks.too 
much!" That drew, however, from his wife another 
moan of objection, which determined in him a judg 
ment. "She won't let you take her for unhappy." 

"Oh, I know better than any one else what she won't 
let me take her for !" 

"Very well," said Amerigo, "you'll see." 

"I shall see wonders, I know. I've already seen 
them, and I'm prepared for them." Maggie recalled 
she had memories enough. "It's terrible" her 
memories prompted her to speak. "I see it's always 
terrible for women." 

The Prince looked down in his gravity. "Every- 
"hing's terrible, cara in the heart of man. She's 
making her life," he said. "She'll make it." 

His wife turned back upon him ; she had wandered 


to a table, vaguely setting objects straight. "A little 
by the way then too, while she's about it, she's making 
ours." At this he raised his eyes, which met her own, 
and she held him while she delivered herself of some 
thing that had been with her these last minutes. "You 
spoke just now of Charlotte's not having learned from 
you that I 'know.' Am I to take from you then that 
you accept and recognise my knowledge?" 

He did the inquiry all the honours visibly weighed 
its importance and weighed his response. "You think 
I might have been showing you that a little more 

"It isn't a question of any beauty," said Maggie; 
"it's only a question of the quantity of truth." 

"Oh, the quantity of truth!" the Prince richly, 
though ambiguously, murmured. 

"That's a thing by itself, yes. But there are 
also such things, all the same, as questions of good 

"Of course there are !" the Prince hastened to reply. 
After which he brought up more slowly: "If ever a 
man, since the beginning of time, acted in good 

faith !" But he dropped it, offering it simply for 


For that then, when it had had time somewhat to 
settle, like some handful of gold-dust thrown into the 
air for that then Maggie showed herself, as deeply 
and strangely taking it. "I see." And she even 
wished this form to be as complete as she could make 
it. "I see." 

The completeness, clearly, after an instant, had 


struck him as divine. "Ah, my dear, my dear, my 
dear !" It was all he could say. 

She wasn't talking, however, at large. "You've 
kept up for so long a silence !" 

"Yes, yes, I know what I've kept up. But will you 
do," he asked, "still one thing more for me?" 

It was as if, for an instant, with her new exposure, 
it had made her turn pale. "Is there even one thing 

"Ah, my dear, my dear, my dear!" it had pressed 
again in him the fine spring of the unspeakable. 

There was nothing, however, that the Princess her 
self couldn't say. "I'll do anything, if you'll tell me 

"Then wait." And his raised Italian hand, with its 
play of admonitory fingers, had never made gesture 
more expressive. His voice itself dropped to a 
tone ! "Wait," he repeated. "Wait." 

She understood, but it was as if she wished to have 
it from him. "Till they've been here, you mean?" 

"Yes, till they've gone. Till they're away." 

She kept it up. "Till they've left the country?" 

She had her eyes on him for clearness; these were 
the conditions of a promise so that he put the promise, 
practically, into his response. "Till we've ceased to 
see them for as long as God may grant ! Till we're 
really alone." 

"Oh, if it's only that !" When she had drawn 

from him thus then, as she could feel, the thick breath 
of the definite which was the intimate, the immediate, 
the familiar, as she hadn't had them for so long she 



turned away again, she put her hand on the knob of 
the door. But her hand rested at first without a grasp ; 
she had another effort to make, the effort of leaving 
him, of which everything that had just passed between 
them, his presence, irresistible, overcharged with it, 
doubled the difficulty. There was something she 
couldn't have told what; it was as if, shut in together, 
they had come too far too far for where they were; 
so that the mere act of her quitting him was like the 
attempt to recover the lost and gone. She had taken 
in with her something that, within the ten minutes, and 
especially within the last three or four, had slipped 
away from her which it was vain now, wasn't it? to 
try to appear to clutch or to pick up. That conscious 
ness in fact had a pang, and she balanced, intensely, 
for the lingering moment, almost with a terror of her 
endless power of surrender. He had only to press, 
really, for her to yield inch by inch, and she fairly 
knew at present, while she looked at him through her 
cloud, that the confession of this precious secret sat 
there for him to pluck. The sensation, for the few 
seconds, was extraordinary; her weakness, her desire, 
so long as she was yet not saving herself, flowered in 
her face like a light or a darkness. She sought for 
some word that would cover this up; she reverted to 
the question of tea, speaking as if they shouldn't meet 
sooner. "Then about five. I count on you." 

On him too, however, something had descended; as 
to which this exactly gave him his chance. "Ah, but 
I shall see you ! No?" he said, coming nearer. 

She had, with her hand still on the knob, her back 


against the door, so that her retreat, under his ap 
proach must be less than a step, and yet she couldn't 
for her life, with the other hand, have pushed him 
away. He was so near now that she could touch him, 
taste him, smell him, kiss him, hold him; he almost 
pressed upon her, and the warmth of his face frown 
ing, smiling, she mightn't know which; only beautiful 
and strange was bent upon her with the largeness 
with which objects loom in dreams. She closed her 
eyes to it, and so, the next instant, against her purpose, 
she had put out her hand, which had met his own and 
which he held. Then it was that, from behind her 
closed eyes, the right word came. "Wait!" It was 
the word of his own distress and entreaty, the word 
for both of them, all they had left, their plank now on 
the great sea. Their hands were locked, and thus she 
said it again. "Wait. Wait." She kept her eyes 
shut, but her hand, she knew, helped her meaning 
which after a minute she was aware his own had ab 
sorbed. He let her go he turned away with this mes 
sage, and when she saw him again his back was pre 
sented, as he had left her, and his face staring out of 
the window. She had saved herself and she got off. 



LATER on, in the afternoon, before the others ar 
rived, the form of their reunion was at least 
remarkable : they might, in their great eastward 
drawing-room, have been comparing notes or nerves 
in apprehension of some stiff official visit. Maggie's 
mind, in its restlessness, even played a little with 
the prospect; the high cool room, with its afternoon 
shade, with its old tapestries uncovered, with the 
perfect polish of its wide floor reflecting the bowls 
of gathered flowers and the silver and linen of the 
prepared tea-table, drew from her a remark in which 
this whole effect was mirrored, as well as something 
else in the Prince's movement while he slowly paced 
and turned. "We're distinctly bourgeois!" she a trifle 
grimly threw off, as an echo of their old community; 
though to a spectator sufficiently detached they 
might have been quite the privileged pair they were 
reputed, granted only they were taken as awaiting 
the visit of Royalty. They might have been ready, 
on the word passed up in advance, to repair together 
to the foot of the staircase the Prince somewhat 
in front, advancing indeed to the open doors and 
even going down, for all his princedom, to meet, on 
the stopping of the chariot, the august emergence. 



The time was stale, it was to be admitted, for in 
cidents of magnitude; the September hush was in 
full possession, at the end of the dull day, and a 
couple of the long windows stood open to the bal 
cony that overhung the desolation the balcony from 
which Maggie, in the springtime, had seen Amerigo 
and Charlotte look down together at the hour of 
her return from the Regent's Park, near by, with her 
father, the Principino and Miss Bogle. Amerigo now 
again, in his punctual impatience, went out a couple 
of times and stood there; after which, as to report 
that nothing was in sight, he returned to the room 
with frankly nothing else to do. The Princess pre 
tended to read; he looked at her as he passed; there 
hovered in her own sense the thought of other occa 
sions when she had cheated appearances of agitation 
with a book. At last she felt him standing before 
her, and then she raised her eyes. 

"Do you remember how, this morning, when you 
told me of this event, I asked you if there were any 
thing particular you wished me to do? You spoke 
of my being at home, but that was a matter of course. 
You spoke of something else," he went on, while she 
sat with her book on her knee and her raised eyes; 
"something that makes me almost wish it may hap 
pen. You spoke," he said, "of the possibility of my 
seeing her alone. Do you know, if that comes," he 
asked, "the use I shall make of it?" And then as she 
waited: "The use is all before me." 

"Ah, it's your own business now!" said his wife. 
But it had made her rise. 



"I shall make it my own," he answered. "I shall 
tell her I lied to her." 

"Ah no !" she returned. 

"And I shall tell her you did." 

She shook her head again. "Oh, still less!" 

With which therefore they stood at difference, he 
with his head erect and his happy idea perched, in 
its eagerness, on his crest. "And how then is she 
to know?" 

"She isn't to know." 

"She's only still to think you don't ?" 

"And therefore that I'm always a fool? She may 
think," said Maggie, "what she likes." 

"Think it without my protest ?" 

The Princess made a movement. "What business 
is it of yours?" 

"Isn't it my right to correct her ?" 

Maggie let his question ring ring long enough 
for him to hear it himself; only then she took it up. 
" 'Correct' her?" and it was her own now that really 
rang. "Aren't you rather forgetting who she is?" 
After which, while he quite stared for it, as it was 
the very first clear majesty he had known her to use, 
she flung down her book and raised a warning hand. 
"The carriage. Come!" 

The "Come!" had matched, for lucid firmness, the 
rest of her speech, and, when they were below, in the, 
hall, there was a "Go!" for him, through the open 
doors and between the ranged servants, that matched 
even that. He received Royalty, bareheaded, there 
fore, in the persons of Mr. and Mrs. Verver, as it 



alighted on the pavement, and Maggie was at the 
threshold to welcome it to her house. Later on, 
upstairs again, she even herself felt still more the 
force of the limit of which she had just reminded him; 
at tea, in Charlotte's affirmed presence as Char 
lotte affirmed it she drew a long breath of richer 
relief. It was the strangest, once more, of all im 
pressions; but what she most felt, for the half-hour, 
was that Mr. and Mrs. Verver were making the oc 
casion easy. They were somehow conjoined in it, 
conjoined for a present effect as Maggie had abso 
lutely never yet seen them; and there occurred, before 
long, a moment in which Amerigo's look met her 
own in recognitions that he couldn't suppress. The 
question of the amount of correction to which Char 
lotte had laid herself open rose and hovered, for the 
instant, only to sink, conspicuously, by its own 
weight; so high a pitch she seemed to give to the 
unconsciousness of questions, so resplendent a show 
of serenity she succeeded in making. The shade of 
the official, in her beauty and security, never for a 
moment dropped; it was a cool, high refuge, like the 
deep, arched recess of some coloured and gilded 
image, in which she sat and smiled and waited, drank 
her tea, referred to her husband and remembered her 
mission. Her mission had quite taken form it was 
but another name for the interest of her great op 
portunity that of representing the arts and the 
graces to a people languishing, afar off, in ignorance. 
Maggie had sufficiently intimated to the Prince, ten 
minutes before, that she needed no showing as to 



what their friend wouldn't consent to be taken for; 
but the difficulty now indeed was to choose, for ex 
plicit tribute of admiration, between the varieties of 
her nobler aspects. She carried it off, to put the 
matter coarsely, with a taste and a discretion that 
held our young woman's attention, for the first quar- 
ter-of-an-hour, to the very point of diverting it from 
the attitude of her overshadowed, her almost super 
seded companion. But Adam Verver profited indeed 
at this time, even with his daughter, by his so marked 
peculiarity of seeming on no occasion to have an 
attitude; and so long as they were in the room to 
gether she felt him still simply weave his web and 
play out his long fine cord, knew herself in presence 
of this tacit process very much as she had known her 
self at Fawns. He had a way, the dear man, wherever 
he was, of moving about the room, noiselessly, to 
see what it might contain; and his manner of now 
resorting to this habit, acquainted as he already was 
with the objects in view, expressed with a certain 
sharpness the intention of leaving his wife to her de 
vices. It did even more than this; it signified, to 
the apprehension of the Princess, from the moment 
she more directly took thought of him, almost a 
special view of these devices, as actually exhibited in 
their rarity, together with an independent, a settled 
appreciation of their general handsome adequacy, 
which scarcely required the accompaniment of his 
faint contemplative hum. 

Charlotte throned, as who should say, between her 
hostess and her host, the whole scene having crys- 



tallised, as soon as she took her place, to the right 
quiet lustre; the harmony was not less sustained for 
being superficial, and the only approach to a break 
in it was while Amerigo remained standing long 
enough for his father-in-law, vaguely wondering, to 
appeal to him, invite or address him, and then, in 
default of any such word, selected for presentation 
to the other visitor a plate of petits fours. Maggie 
watched her husband if it now could be called 
watching offer this refreshment; she noted the con 
summate way for "consummate" was the term she 
privately applied in which Charlotte cleared her 
acceptance, cleared her impersonal smile, of any be 
trayal, any slightest value, of consciousness; and then 
felt the slow surge of a vision that, at the end of 
another minute or two, had floated her across the 
room to where her father stood looking at a picture, 
an early Florentine sacred subject, that he had given 
her on her marriage. He might have been, in silence, 
taking his last leave of it; it was a work for which 
he entertained, she knew, an unqualified esteem. 
The tenderness represented for her by his sacrifice 
of such a treasure had become, to her sense, a part 
of the whole infusion, of the immortal expression; 
the beauty of his sentiment looked out at her, always, 
from the beauty of the rest, as if the frame made 
positively a window for his spiritual face: she might 
have said to herself, at this moment, that in leaving 
the thing behind him, held as in her clasping arms, 
he was doing the most possible toward leaving her 
a part of his palpable self. She put her hand over 



his shoulder, and their eyes were held again, together, 
by the abiding felicity; they smiled in emulation, 
vaguely, as if speech failed them through their having 
passed too far; she would have begun to wonder the 
next minute if it were reserved to them, for the last 
stage, to find their contact, like that of old friends 
reunited too much on the theory of the unchanged, 
subject to shy lapses. 

"It's all right, eh?" 

"Oh, my dear rather!" 

He had applied the question to the great fact of the 
picture, as she had spoken for the picture in reply, 
but it was as if their words for an instant afterwards 
symbolised another truth, so that they looked about 
at everything else to give them this extension. She 
had passed her arm into his, and the other objects 
in the room, the other pictures, the sofas, the chairs, 
the tables, the cabinets, the "important" pieces, su 
preme in their way, stood out, round them, con 
sciously, for recognition and applause. Their eyes 
moved together from piece to piece, taking in the 
whole nobleness quite as if for him to measure the 
wisdom of old ideas. The two noble persons seated, 
in conversation, at tea, fell thus into the splendid 
effect and the general harmony: Mrs. Verver and the 
Prince fairly "placed" themselves, however unwit 
tingly, as higfi expressions of the kind of human fur 
niture required, esthetically, by such a scene. The 
fusion of their presence with the decorative elements, 
their contribution to the triumph of selection, was 
complete and admirable; though, to a lingering view, 

368 ' 


a view more penetrating than the occasion really 
demanded, they also might have figured as concrete 
attestations of a rare power of purchase. There was 
much indeed in the tone in which Adam Verver spoke 
again, and who shall say where his thought stopped? 
"Le compte y est. You've got some good things." 

Maggie met it afresh "Ah, don't they look well?" 
Their companions, at the sound of this, gave them, 
in a spacious intermission of slow talk, an attention, 
all of gravity, that was like an ampler submission 
to the general duty of magnificence; sitting as still, 
to be thus appraised, as a pair of effigies of the con 
temporary great on one of the platforms of Madame 
Tussaud. "I'm so glad for your last look." 

With which, after Maggie quite in the air had 
said it, the note was struck indeed; the note of that 
strange accepted finality of relation, as from couple 
to couple, which almost escaped an awkwardness only 
by not attempting a gloss. Yes, this was the wonder, 
that the occasion defied insistence precisely because 
of the vast quantities with which it dealt so that 
separation was on a scale beyond any compass of 
parting. To do such an hour justice would have 
been in some degree to question its grounds 
which was why they remained, in fine, the four of 
them, in the upper air, united in the firmest absten 
tion from pressure. There was no point, visibly, at 
which, face to face, either Amerigo or Charlotte had 
pressed; and how little she herself was in danger of 
doing so Maggie scarce needed to remember. That 
her father wouldn't, by the tip of a toe of that she 
VOL. II. 24 369 


was equally conscious: the only thing was that, since 
he didn't, she could but hold her breath for what he 
would do instead. When, at the end of three minutes 
more, he had said, with an effect of suddenness, "Well, 
Mag and the Principino?" it was quite as if that 
were, by contrast, the hard, the truer voice. 

She glanced at the clock. "I 'ordered' him for 
half-past five which hasn't yet struck. Trust him, 
my dear, not to fail you!" 

"Oh, I don't want him to fail me!" was Mr. Ver- 
ver's reply; yet uttered in so explicitly jocose a 
relation to the possibilities of failure that even when, 
just afterwards, he wandered in his impatience to one 
of the long windows and passed out to the balcony, 
she asked herself but for a few seconds if reality, 
should she follow him, would overtake or meet her 
there. She followed him of necessity it came, ab 
solutely, so near to his inviting her, by stepping off 
into temporary detachment, to give the others some 
thing of the chance that she and her husband had so 
fantastically discussed. Beside him then, while they 
hung over the great dull place, clear and almost col 
oured now, coloured with the odd, sad, pictured, 
"old-fashioned" look that empty London streets take 
on in waning afternoons of the summer's end, she 
felt once more how impossible such a passage would 
have been to them, how it would have torn them to 
pieces, if they had so much as suffered its suppressed 
relations to peep out of their eyes. This danger 
would doubtless indeed have been more to be reck 
oned with if the instinct of each she could certainly 



at least answer for her own had not so successfully 
acted to trump up other apparent connexions for it, 
connexions as to which they could pretend to be 

"You mustn't stay on here, you know," Adam 
Verver said as a result of his unobstructed outlook. 
"Fawns is all there for you, of course to the end 
of my tenure. But Fawns so dismantled," he added 
with mild ruefulness, "Fawns with half its contents, 
and half its best things, removed, won't seem to you, 
I'm afraid, particularly lively." 

"No," Maggie answered, "we should miss its best 
things. Its best things, my dear, have certainly been 
removed. To be back there," she went on, "to be 

back there !" And she paused for the force of 

her idea. 

"Oh, to be back there without anything good !" 

But she didn't hesitate now; she brought her idea 
forth. "To be back there without Charlotte is more 
than I think would do." And as she smiled at him 
with it, so she saw him the next instant take it take 
it in a way that helped her smile to pass all for an 
allusion to what she didn't and couldn't say. This 
quantity was too clear that she couldn't at such an 
hour be pretending to name to him what it was, as 
he would have said, "going to be," at Fawns or any 
where else, to want for him. That was now and in a 
manner exaltedly, sublimely out of their compass 
and their question; so that what was she doing, while 
they waited for the Principino, while they left the 
others together and their tension just sensibly threat- 


ened, what was she doing but just offer a bold but 
substantial substitute? Nothing was stranger 
moreover, under the action of Charlotte's presence, 
than the fact of a felt sincerity in her words. She 
felt her sincerity absolutely sound she gave it for 
all it might mean. "Because Charlotte, dear, you 
know," she said, "is incomparable." It took thirty 
seconds, but she was to know when these were 
over that she had pronounced one of the happiest 
words of her life. They had turned from the view 
of the street; they leaned together against the bal 
cony rail, with the room largely in sight from where 
they stood, but with the Prince and Mrs. Verver out 
of range. Nothing he could try, she immediately 
saw, was to keep his eyes from lighting; not even 
his taking out his cigarette-case and saying before 
he said anything else: "May I smoke?" She met 
it, for encouragement, with her "My dear!" again, 
and then, while he struck his match, she had just 
another minute to be nervous a minute that she 
made use of, however, not in the least to falter, but 
to reiterate with a high ring, a ring that might, for 
all she cared, reach the pair inside: "Father, father 
Charlotte's great!" 

It was not till after he had begun to smoke that 
he looked at her. "Charlotte's great." 

They could close upon it such a basis as they 
might immediately feel it make; and so they stood 
together over it, quite gratefully, each recording to 
the other's eyes that it was firm under their feet. 
They had even thus a renewed wait, as for proof of it ; 



much as if he were letting her see, while the minutes 
lapsed for their concealed companions, that this was 
finally just why but just why! "You see," he pres 
ently added, "how right I was. Right, I mean, to 
do it for you." 

"Ah, rather!" she murmured with her smile. And 
then, as to be herself ideally right: "I don't see what 
you would have done without her." 

"The point was," he returned quietly, "that I didn't 
see what you were to do. Yet it was a risk." 

"It was a risk," said Maggie "but I believed in 
it. At least for myself!" she smiled. 

"Well now," he smoked, "we see." 

"We see." 

"I know her better." 

"You know her best." 

"Oh, but naturally!" On which, as the warranted 
truth of it hung in the air the truth warranted, as 
who should say, exactly by the present opportunity 
to pronounce, this opportunity created and accepted 
she found herself lost, though with a finer thrill 
than she had perhaps yet known, in the vision of all 
he might mean. The sense of it in her rose higher, 
rose with each moment that he invited her thus to 
see him linger; and when, after a little more, he had 
said, smoking again and looking up, with head 
thrown back and hands spread on the balcony rail, 
at the grey, gaunt front of the house, "She's beau 
tiful, beautiful!" her sensibility reported to her the 
shade of a new note. It was all she might have 
wished, for it was, with a kind of speaking com- 



petence, the note of possession and control; and yet 
it conveyed to her as nothing till now had done the 
reality of their parting. They were parting, in the 
light of it, absolutely on Charlotte's value the value 
that was filling the room out of which they had 
stepped as if to give it play, and with which the 
Prince, on his side, was perhaps making larger 
acquaintance. If Maggie had desired, at so late 
an hour, some last conclusive comfortable category 
to place him in for dismissal, she might have 
found it here in its all coming back to his ability 
to rest upon high values. Somehow, when all 
was said, and with the memory of her gifts, her va 
riety, her power, so much remained of Charlotte's! 
What else had she herself meant three minutes be 
fore by speaking of her as great? Great for the world 
that was before her that he proposed she should be : 
she was not to be wasted in the application of his plan. 
Maggie held to this then that she wasn't to be 
wasted. To let his daughter know it he had sought 
this brief privacy. What a blessing, accordingly, that 
she could speak her joy in it! His face, meanwhile, 
at all events, was turned to her, and as she met his 
eyes again her joy went straight. ''It's success, 

"It's success. And even this" he added as the 
Principino, appearing alone, deep within, piped across 
an instant greeting "even this isn't altogether 

They went in to receive the boy, upon whose in 
troduction to the room by Miss Bogle Charlotte and 



the Prince got up seemingly with an impressiveness 
that had caused Miss Bogle not to give further effect 
to her own entrance. She had retired, but the Prin- 
cipino's presence, by itself, sufficiently broke the ten 
sion the subsidence of which, in the great room, 
ten minutes later, gave to the air something of the 
quality produced by the cessation of a sustained 
rattle. Stillness, when the Prince and Princess re 
turned from attending the visitors to their carriage, 
might have been said to be not so much restored as 
created; so that whatever next took place in it was 
foredoomed to remarkable salience. That would 
have been the case even with so natural, though so 
futile, a movement as Maggie's going out to the bal 
cony again to follow with her eyes her father's 
departure. The carriage was out of sight it had 
taken her too long solemnly to reascend, and she 
looked awhile only at the great grey space, on which, 
as on the room still more, the shadow of dusk had 
fallen. Here, at first, her husband had not rejoined 
her; he had come up with the boy, who, clutching 
his hand, abounded, as usual, in remarks worthy of 
the family archives; but the two appeared then to 
have proceeded to report to Miss Bogle. It meant 
something for the Princess that her husband had thus 
got their son out of the way, not bringing him back 
to his mother; but everything now, as she vaguely 
moved about, struck her as meaning so much that 
the unheard chorus swelled. Yet this above all 
her just being there as she was and waiting for him 
to come in, their freedom to be together there always 



was the meaning most disengaged: she stood in 
the cool twilight and took in, all about her, where 
it lurked, her reason for what she had done. She 
knew at last really why and how she had been in 
spired and guided, how she had been persistently able, 
how, to her soul, all the while, it had been for the 
sake of this end. Here it was, then, the moment, 
the golden fruit that had shone from afar; only, what 
were these things, in the fact, for the hand and for 
the lips, when tested, when tasted what were they 
as a reward? Closer than she had ever been to the 
measure of her course and the full face of her act, she 
had an instant of the terror that, when there has been 
suspense, always precedes, on the part of the creature 
to be paid, the certification of the amount. Amerigo 
knew it, the amount; he still held it, and the delay 
in his return, making her heart beat too fast to go 
on, was like a sudden blinding light on a wild spec 
ulation. She had thrown the dice, but his hand was 
over her cast. 

He opened the door, however, at last he hadn't 
been away ten minutes; and then, with her sight of 
him renewed to intensity, she seemed to have a view 
of the number. His presence alone, as he paused 
to look at her, somehow made it the highest, and 
even before he had spoken she had begun to be paid 
in full. With that consciousness, in fact, an extraor 
dinary thing occurred; the assurance of her safety 
so making her terror drop that already, within the 
minute, it had been changed to concern for his own 
anxiety, for everything that was deep in his being 



and everything that was fair in his face. So far as 
seeing that she was "paid" went, he might have been 
holding out the money-bag for her to come and take 
it. But what instantly rose, for her, between the act 
and her acceptance was the sense that she must strike 
him as waiting for a confession. This, in turn, 
charged her with a new horror: if that was her proper 
payment she would go without money. His ac 
knowledgment hung there, too monstrously, at the 
expense of Charlotte, before whose mastery of the 
greater style she had just been standing dazzled. All 
she now knew, accordingly, was that she should be 
ashamed to listen to the uttered word; all, that is, 
but that she might dispose of it on the spot forever. 

"Isn't she too splendid?" she simply said, offering 
it to explain and to finish. 

"Oh, splendid!" With which he came over to her. 

"That's our help, you see," she added to point 
further her moral. 

It kept him before her therefore, taking in or 
trying to what she so wonderfully gave. He tried, 
too clearly, to please her to meet her in her own 
way; but with the result only that, close to her, her 
face kept before him, his hands holding her shoulders, 
his whole act enclosing her, he presently echoed: 
" 'See'? I see nothing but you." And the truth of it 
had, with this force, after a moment, so strangely 
lighted his eyes that, as for pity and dread of them, 
she buried her own in his breast. 




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